|Piglet is a month away from becoming the middle child!|
Several close friends are having their third kid this year (ah…one just gave birth to hers last month) and I overhear concerned family / friends asking – are you afraid that they may suffer the ‘middle child syndrome’? Are you the middle child in your family? I would love to hear your thoughts, read your comments on this mysterious issue.
If you want to read my musings on the subject, here it goes -
Last week, or maybe the week before, I was just asking my friend about her personal experience of being the middle. She was adamant that the diagnosis was true and admitted to having suffered an inferiority complex as a result. The first child, she then explained, will have his/her formation years completely secure as both parents would give undivided attention. While the third then, being the youngest will be doted on the most, even perhaps by the eldest sibling. This then leaves the middle child nowhere in the equation. They are, she surmised, neglected, overlooked and often left to their own devices.
After hearing the view of a middle child, I went and sought out a mother of three to hear her views on the matter. Thankfully her views on the matter were completely different and I found myself learning a lot, not just about the case in point but also motherhood in general.
Although her youngest child is not yet a year old, she encourages the other two to include him in their play wherever / however possible. If not, he sits near where they are busy drawing, playing or jumping around. She believes that siblings who play together, stay together and accepts that there simply will be moments where they cry or fight. That doesn’t change her emphasis on combined play time.
As far as I could observe, there was no clear distinction made between the oldest and middle child. Both were expected to sit at the table throughout dinner and both had to bring their own dishes to the sink thereafter. Mind you, the middle child is barely three. Yet, my friend says as long as they are able, we can and should expected good behavior regardless of their age or rank. She would start asking it of the infant when he's of age.
The most intriguing part I find about her parenting style is scenario training. She sits her children down, yes, even the infant and she creates scenarios where they then have to respond (in their own capacity). I observed this entire scene once and was surprised when she told me this was done pretty regularly.
This day’s scenario went like this - I want you to imagine that all four of us are shopping at a supermarket together one day. (Insert a whole bunch of toddler-centric questions, which she answers patiently) At the supermarket, three of you are accidentally separated from mummy, what do you do?
The middle child, a pretty little girl, chirps in with, ‘hold korkor’s hand!’
In response, her stoic older brother goes, ‘me and meimei will protect baby and wait for mummy to come find us.’
Watching her and her children, no child has to be brought up boxed in by these stereotypes or the experiences others have had. If from the onset, we decide to look out for the individuality of each child and insist of the fostering of sibling bonds from a young age, much can be done.