Sam had a middle child personality even before his younger sister was born. He was (and is) sweet, accommodating and can play with kids older than him or younger. And as he gets older we can already see that Jan Brady-sized chip being carved out on his shoulder. My doula told me that the world needs more middle children because they are the negotiators and mediators of the world, so we do have major world-saving plans for Sam.
Typically, middle children get the least amount of attention and it is true in our house too. Blogger MamaKat admitted to forgetting her middle child's birthday this week and lots of commenters agreed with her that middle child syndrom is real. My husband thinks that the benign neglect may make Sam more sane and capable than the rest of us. It worries me but then I forget about it because my oldest is being ridiculously rude and needs a drive to his soccer practice and his younger sister is so adorable and wants me to put on some music so she can dance.
Most parents with three kids find birth order theory more reliable than astrology in finding some clues to their kids' personalities. But the theory still gets argued about in the psychology texts. Does birth order create personality characteristics or just increase certain tendencies that are already innate?
Alfred Adler (of whom I am a loose adherent) is considered a pioneer in birth order theory, he believed that people need to be understood within the context of their social relationships – especially their family constellation. He believed that it was not the sibling position that determined personality but how the individual reacts to it, although there is a level of predictability on the parents part that is consistent with each birth position. He also said that children who feel loved and respected are more less likely to rebel, no matter what their birth position is. I was at an Adlerian talk on birth order where the speaker correctly predicted the personalities and even careers of an audience member’s own family of eight children. It was a bit eerie.
At the same talk the speaker asked all the first-borns to raise their hands. Almost the entire audience raised their hand. He said (something along the lines of): “works every time. You first borns are a bunch of perfectionists and you think there is a right way to parent.” Ouch.
So the first born is perfect, the middle is ignored and the baby? The baby of the family gets attention from being adorable. So while the first two are arguing over the hockey schedule, she can put her chopsticks up her nose and everyone looks at her and laughs. According to Adler, the first two kids can get locked into a battle of superiority allowing the third child freedom to define themselves away from the family rules.
Do these stereotypes sound familiar? Do they exist in your family?