The Middle Man

Even before Jan Brady wailed those three, pitiful words, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia,” middle children all over the world have been trying to escape the shadows of their older siblings. Being an oldest child, myself, I’ve never really understood this struggle. Just ask my younger sister. I’m sure she will vouch for me!

However, when I became the mother of three boys, I became acutely aware of the middle child syndrome, and the importance of birth order. And I wanted to make sure that our middle son never had any reason to go postal. (Do people even still use that phrase? I’m not sure. It’s probably pretty dated because I don’t think I’ve read about any postal violence in recent months. Oh, well.)

The only problem was, I wasn’t really sure how to make sure he didn’t end up like the typical middle child. Never having been one myself and never having experienced the torment of an older sibling, I didn’t have a clear cut plan on how to protect him from this potentially, emotionally, crippling syndrome.

He will be turning 13 in a month and I have to say, and proudly so, that he shows no apparent signs of feeling unloved and neglected. And that’s good because he isn’t! Unloved and neglected, that is. If anything, we’ve probably gone overboard in the opposite direction to make sure he has never felt overlooked or left out.

Once again, this is not one of the things that gets covered in the happy parenting books we all read when we first find out that we are expecting. If someone is going to write a book about what to expect when I become a parent, I want it to be thorough enough so as to prepare me for the dangerous pitfalls of raising a middle child with damaged self-esteem.

Thankfully we have avoided the stereotypical middle child behaviors, and I’m not really sure how that happened. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, but part of it begins by making sure each child has the opportunity to be the “only child” every once in while. Over the years I have taken advantage of opportunities to spend one on one time with my boys; even if it means just the two of us going grocery shopping together.

I firmly believe that each child has to be treated and raised as an individual. What works for one child from a parenting stand point may not work for another – even if they do live in the same house with the same parents. Now please don’t confuse that with equity of treatment and discipline, because the other thing I strongly believe in is consistency. If a child is disciplined for not obeying, then the other siblings need to know the same sentence awaits them should they decide to break the rules.

Consistency in love, support and attention is just as important and along with our strong, family faith is what I believe has protected our middle son from ever feeling less than the other two.

So, if some day our middle man decides he ever wants to work for the US Postal Service, we don’t have a thing to worry about!

What is your birth order? Oldest, middle, youngest or only? And how did it effect you growing up? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Who only looks like a brooding middle child because I made him pose this way.

G-Man: Who only looks like a brooding middle child because I made him pose this way.



Filed under The Boys Are Back, You Gotta Have Faith

8 responses to “The Middle Man

  1. Lisa

    I was the youngest of 2 – 7 years younger than my sister. I felt like I was an only child at times. Now, if my dad had been present during my years of growing up, I think it would have felt much different. I think that had a MUCH bigger impact in my life than my birth order did.

  2. VickiNicki

    Well, you know, there’s an oldest child syndrome as well. Or also known as “The Guinnea Pig” syndrome. I think the youngest have it made, now that I think of it. *Sigh*

  3. Oh, I am well aware of the “oldest child experimental syndrome.” I am a direct result of guinea pig parenting.

    And yes, the youngest in the family does have it the easiest – Ask your Uncle Snot Face.

  4. Emeray is the same way! So true!

  5. I am the only youngest child in a family of three oldest siblings, and I married an oldest child. I certainly have my days of wailing that nobody understands me 🙂

    In all truth, though, my family pretty well shatters every stereotype. My sis and I have (almost) always been best friends, and she only tyrannized over me for a few years in our younger days before I started standing up for myself, and turned into her defender and staunchest supporter. By the time we were both in our teens, we were on equal footing with each other and our parents. It’s how we roll!

  6. VickiNicki

    I’m so glad someone understands me. Haha!

  7. I am the oldest of 3. I don’t *think* that my brother suffered from middle child syndrome. I’m going to have to ask him! 🙂

    I had 3 babies but lost the youngest to SIDS, so my “middle” child grew up as the youngest of 2. In any case, they are both very well adjusted young ladies although very different from each other. It can also be attributed to the fact that they are only 14 months apart and I guess they were both guinea pigs. 😉

  8. Pingback: It would be easier if I had just given them all the same name « Where the Boys Are

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