I knew he was a middle child from the moment he was born. My husband used to correct me when I called him ‘the middle’ even when there wasn’t a kid that followed. But I knew; moms always do. Plus, it takes one to know one. I’m lucky enough to have been born a middle child, raised by middle children who were raised by middle children. I love my middle-child lineage as much my own mom loved her place in her family. She preached as often as she could the benefits of being in the middle. There was no room for a ‘Jan Brady’ in my house. According to my sweet Momma, being the MC (Middle Child) was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Thirty-three years later, I still believe every word.
Here’s the thing, you and I both know all of the stereotypical traits of middle children. They’re often heavy with negative connotation. For the sake of conversation, here’s a list I found (Courtesy of Parents.com)
I’ve also heard that middle children are often loners who are under-appreciated, overlooked and misunderstood. I’m telling you, for these exact reasons, your middle child is your secret weapon. It was Mom’s insistence that I embrace my birth order, which created a strong foundation of self-acceptance. I knew where I belonged, even when I looked different than my siblings. The things that make us middle children different are where our super powers lie.
I hear what they’re saying, but I see independence. When my older sister was in high school, my younger sister was a toddler and needless to say, my parent’s attention wasn’t often directed at me. (Something any good MC learns to use to their advantage 😉.) For my son, the ages and stages were different but the result was the same. He was sandwiched between a two-year-old and a newborn. He had to fend for himself, and he does. He’s my most independent. The most likely to choose an option that goes against popular opinion. The kid who fixes his own snack instead of waiting for help. He cherishes the moments when no one is around (and is desperate for his own room). He doesn’t need a crowd to do anything, he only needs himself.
Am I the only one who cringes at the phrase ‘people pleaser?’ More than likely, you hear that and you think ‘doormat.’ And I know there were times in my life that might have been true. I’ve also come to learn that I am well-versed in reading people and paying attention to the nuances that make them tick. I knew what a grumpy older sister looked like, even when she hid it well. I knew how to calm cranky little sister down, even when her heels were dug in deep and it’s all still true to this day.
If I ask my son about his siblings, he knows more than you would think. He knows what it means when his sister makes that face, or his brother cries a certain way. He knows when to get involved and when to remove himself from a situation. If you pay attention to your MCs, they could probably teach you a thing or two about the dynamics between your kiddos. Things you only know from living in the trenches which can translate into conflict resolution and diplomatic brilliance. Did you know that over 50% of US Presidents were middle children? True story. Not the natural first-born leaders, the overlooked middles have run our country for half of its history (Courtesy of Good Housekeeping).
Yes. We’re rebellious, but it doesn’t always look like what you think. I didn’t sneak out of my parent’s house; I didn’t blatantly break many rules. But from somewhere deep down, I’m resistant to others expectations. I march to the beat of my own drum and I love it. The middle child ‘rebels’ in your home probably have a better grasp on who they really are then the first or the last born. Sure, we sometimes get lost in the chaos. But it’s in that space where we find ourselves. The independence and self-assuredness that comes at a young age translates into self-sufficiency. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I watch my son, with his fierce independence streak that sometimes drives me crazy. His personality quirks always keep me guessing and he balks when he’s expected to fit the mold. I don’t wonder where it comes from and I know it will all serve him well. Take a good hard look at your kiddos, if you have one (or a bunch) in the middle, let them live there.