Thursday, July 28, 2011

Parenting the Middle Child

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Kaitlyn is my middle child. But in some ways, I have no middle child. She is the oldest girl and therefore the "functional oldest." Despite that, I often see things happening to her that are so stereotypically middle-child-esq. 

Sometimes I really can get stressed out about the middle child thing. I think about how I don't want Kaitlyn to feel ignored, neglected, or looked over. I am old enough to be intimate with Jan Brady and her frustrations over Marsha. 

But then I think about how middle children are often the most well-adjusted adults. They are relaxed, easy-going, and sociable. So then I wonder if I should worry about it or not...maybe I should just let her be a "middle child." 

I think Kevin Leman has some great ideas in his birth order book. The basic point he makes is to make an effort to ensure your middle child feels special and important in the family. I think that is great advice. Let the middle child have an opinion in family decisions. Have some special traditions you do with just you and that child. Make time for special one-on-one time with your middle child. 

Make sure your child gets clothes that are not hand-me-downs sometimes. If you can't afford to do otherwise, you could look for ideas on re-purposing clothing on many craft blogs online. For McKenna, I buy her a new outfit at her birthday and other special occasions. I am of course not going to buy her a brand new wardrobe, but a few shirts here and there are doable.

Listen to your child when she talks to you. Also, Leman suggests you have a fair share of photos of your middle child, and also photos alone. 

Most of all, make sure home is a more safe and forgiving place than the outside world. You want your child to turn to her family in times of trouble, not the outside world. 

I think these are great ideas, and equally applicable to oldest and youngest. The thing about the oldest and youngest, though, is they won't usually let you get away with not giving them these things. 

If ever you worry about your middle child, you might appreciate this quote from Leman, "The more I counsel, the more I realize that being squeezed a little while you are growing up isn't necessarily all bad." (Page 319)

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Vicky said...

I loved the Birth Order book, and even did a special paper on it in my high school sociology class years ago.

I am the 6th of 9 kids, so I am kind of a "middle child", although I was the last girl, so I have a unique place in my family. Sometimes I definitely felt like a middle child; other times I didn't.

I have 3 kids, girl - boy - girl. I think it is interesting as they each have their own place: oldes girl, baby girl, and only son. I want to have 1-on-1 time with him as he grows up and want my husband to do the same (he already does to an extent). I know as he grows up (he's only 2), they will do more together as he is able to play sports, discuss books and movies, talk about school, etc.

Thanks for a thoughtful post!

Jodi said...

my sister who is the middle of 9 definitely has middle child syndrome! Just make sure you have lots of those photos, because that is her biggest complaint. And never a new pair of shoes:)

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Vicky!

Jodi, I know the pictures are always a common complaint. My middle child won't have that problem for sure. I am a picture taking fool :)

Dora Romero said...
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Sandra Marasco said...

I came across your blog and I learned about the Birth Order Book that helped me understand the behavior of my middle child. As a mompreneur, I spend a lot of time working; it's important for me to have enough time talking to my children as well.


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