Sunday, 25 August 2013

In Celebration of my Middle Child

I've been thinking about the struggle and joys of the middle child lately.  My third child, second daughter Miss A has been deploring her lot as the middle one - middle child, middle girl.  "I never get to go first!"  "Why can't I do that too?"
As a middle child too I can somewhat sympathise, although I am only one of three.  It always seems as though other people get precedence - I do try to be fair, but I can see that with two dominant older siblings (Eldest Girl and Eldest Boy are pretty equal) it certainly must seem like she's always having to give way.  And with two younger siblings still very dependent on Mummy, it's no wonder she goes to Daddy first.

The good news is she has a bright future ahead of her, potentially.  The assumption in society is that Middle Children are more likely to have strong marriages, are more likely to be adventurous or creative, are more comfortable in social settings.  This makes perfect sense to me, although there is very little scientific evidence.  The early training in negotiating makes a Middle Child natural at finding compromise.  A few years back my younger sister accused me of being impossible to bait into an argument - I had learnt to choose my battles.  This is a very useful social skill, and with the right kind of encouragement, there is no reason Miss A can't learn to find ways to make the best of any situation and come out on top when it really matters.
Miss A is already the most comfortable in new situations, the least likely of the three eldest to be afraid, although since starting school last term she has lost some of her previously unshakable confidence - I'm hopeful that with the start of the new term and the fact that she will no longer be one of the youngest she will regain some of that self-assurance.  Recently, while at a Church camp, we got separated (bad mother that I am, I didn't notice for a while - there were lots of children and lots of adults who were keeping an eye on them...).  Unfazed, Miss A went to the Camp Shop and spoke to the man running it.  "My parents are missing," she said, quite calmly.  She is very proud of herself for this composure - as are we!

While it can be argued that the eldest child is the one to receive the most input in the early years, that will enable them to excel academically and have higher IQs, there is something to be said for absorbing knowledge gained from having older siblings - not to mention competition.  Miss I (Eldest daughter) has always been bright, but even with virtual one on one teaching at her first formal nursery wasn't counting to 20 before starting school (an oversight on my part, I just never counted above 10 with her).  Whereas Miss A, constantly bombarded with information from her older siblings, was counting beyond 20 aged 2 as well as holding very grown up conversations with any adult she met.

The Family
So here's to Miss A, and all those other Middle Children, and a bright future full of adventure and success.  Being first isn't always best and success isn't always about winning the argument - although I know it feels like it when you're four!

(See this article from the BBC magazine for more thoughts on the value of siblings generally


  1. Miss A sounds as though she fathoms things out quite well already and is developing an endearing personality. And as for her comment, "my parents are missing," well that's simply hilarious!

    1. Oh, she definitely has things sussed. Her self-assurance with her 'parents missing' amused everyone on the security team. I was just so embarrassed not to have noticed she was missing, even when I heard them talking about the missing parents!


Long or short - I love to hear your thoughts.