Last week I dove into the topic of the firstborn child and the characteristics that coincide with being the #1 kid in a family. A lot of you wrote comments mentioning how you could totally see yourself in the description, or a spouse, or your own child.
I’m guessing that now you probably want me to move right on to the baby of the family because the baby is usually so charming and so outgoing that if you are one, you’re dying for the attention. And some of you want to know what makes your little baby such a handful and yet so entertaining.
Well guess what? We are not going to talk about those little class clowns just yet because there is another child, a more quiet, mysterious child that often gets left out of the conversation. Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book, The Birth Order Book, describes this child as the Middle Child.
Stop for a minute and think about where you are in the birth order. If you’re not the oldest and not the youngest then you fall somewhere in the middle. Unless of course there is a 5 year or more age difference between siblings, then that scenario brings up some of the firstborn tendencies that I talked about in this post. But for now, we will assume that the middle child is just that, smack dab in the middle of the oldest and youngest with a less than a 5 year age difference in between.
Middle children are a bit of a mystery and I believe it. Because parents tend to put a lot of effort into the firstborn, not ever having parented before, and a lot of energy into the baby, because he/she may be the last. This often leads to the middle child getting a little lost in the shuffle. Here are some interesting characteristics of middle born children and how it applies to my second born child, Calvin.
Opposite of the Firstborn ~ At some point, the second born, third born, fourth born and so on will size up his/her older sibling and will be considerably influenced by what they see. In my son’s case, he saw how exasperated we were by his older brother and decided to go the exact opposite direction by being compliant and easy going. Calvin is still this way today. He has always been very coachable, agreeable, and slow to anger. A good way to describe my middle born son is to say he is a lover not a fighter.
Avoids Conflict At All Costs~ This is so amazingly true about my son. Ever since Calvin saw how much trouble his big brother got into for arguing all the time when he was asked to do something, he has been quick to do what was asked of him to avoid any confrontation. While this characteristic is a dream for any mom, it made having deep conversations hard. I often had to ask question after question, rephrase and ask again in order to get him talking about the important stuff. Like girls and grades. He still does not like family meetings because they could lead to arguments, but with two first born parents, a big brother and a first born-girl sister, arguments are pretty much unavoidable at our house.
Easy Going ~ Middle born kids can take things in stride which might, at times, make it appear as if they just don’t care. Whether it be grades, strike outs, breakups or some other type of failure, the middle born child seems to not take things as seriously as his/her siblings. Or so it seems. This can lead to pent up aggression and a feeling of being ready to blow.
Because it’s so difficult to get the middle child to open up about how they feel, it is always a good idea to make sure that they have a way to vent. For our family, it was through sports. Calvin used the football field to work out his frustrations and is now a starting linebacker in college football. Off the field he is a peacemaker, on the field he is a beast. He has successfully figured out the best way to channel his aggression and this is one reason why middle borns don’t have nearly as many hang ups or problems as firstborn children. They just don’t let things bug them like the rest of us firstborns and babies of the family. Their confidence comes by having lower expectations which results in a steadfast strength as an adult.
If low expectations includes not really caring about how they look then that is the middle born. Quite opposite of his older brother who often looks like he is on his way to a photo shoot for GQ, Calvin can be found in mismatched athletic shorts and t-shirts most of the time. (When he does clean up-he cleans up well 😉
Lots of Friends ~ Because the middle born is typically easy going, they have a lot of friends and are well liked by their peers. Again, they are up against the firstborn and all his/her demands and the baby of the family with all of his/her needs for attention. The effort at home can be draining for the middle child, therefore they seek a peer group where they can be their free-spirited selves and use others as a measuring stick for their values. Middle children make great team members because they get along so well with everyone and it is important for parents to help steer their middle born kids toward healthy groups and teams and avoid the bad influences.
Good Mediators ~ Middle born children are good at negotiation and compromise. For example, my kids always had a curfew. If they were even 5 minutes late, they better have a good reason. But when my easygoing, middle born son would be 20 minutes late, he learned how to turn his mistake into something good for others by saying “my friend needed a ride home because they were drinking and you wouldn’t want me to be irresponsible and let them drive would you?”. “Of course not my sweet Knight in Shining Armor“. Calvin learned how to get off the hook, talk his way out of a bad situation and suffer no consequences. His older brother, of course, still comments on how he could never get away with anything and Calvin always got away with everything by asking “WWJD?”.
Mentally Tough ~ Middle borns are hard to read. They don’t confide in many people and can keep their thoughts and feelings close to the chest which, in turn, makes them mentally tough and independent. This is where the biggest difference between the firstborn and middle child come into play. While the firstborn has those perfectionist tendencies that make them afraid to fail and can often get down on themselves for not being perfect, the middle born child can handle failure and imperfection quite well. Calvin has a knack for being mentally tough on the football field. Football coaching can be brutal with degrading comments and constant profanity. It is the nature of the game to get players fired up by making them feel like shit. Many boys can’t handle that form of motivation, especially if you’re a firstborn perfectionist. But a middle born, who let’s everything roll off their back, does better than most with this dynamic. Don’t get me wrong, firstborns or the babies make great football players too but chances are they are the quarterbacks who often get the most attention and who love the limelight.
It’s my cracked conclusion that the middle child ends up being the most “balanced” of all the birth orders. At least that’s what the experts say. It is said that they make the most faithful marriage partners, are extremely loyal and they stick to their commitments. Calvin hates to be the center of attention which makes perfect sense because middle borns embarrass easily. While his older brother loves to be the star, Calvin is perfectly happy to live in the shadows and promote the efforts of others, and with his skills to deflect attention and avoid conflict, he does quite well at it!
*** If you or someone you know is interested in Birth Order, the book I have been referring to in my posts, by Dr. Kevin Leman, is available through Amazon. If you click on the link I have to the book on the right sidebar and purchase the book, I will get a few cents commission which would be wonderful and give me the approval and validation that us firstborns need 😉 Thanks Y’all!