Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Secret Power of Middle Children, by Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann


Many books have explored the subject of birth order, but not one of them has been specifically about the qualities of middle children.

The good news discussed in this book is that although  middle children miss out on getting the most attention at home (not being first and experiencing the full focus of attention in the early years) or being the indulged baby of the family, the adaptations they learn as a result of their birth order gives them excellent skills as friends and partners.

"As children, squeezed between siblings at home, middleborns have to develop the ability to get what they want by being clever - rather than loud like the firstborn or cute like the last. They learn how to hold on to their friends by becoming good listeners, and being flexible and tolerant." (Page 163.)

Middles gravitate toward chosen family - their friends and partners - because they're not competing with them for attention based on the accepted familial hierarchy.

The authors state that "not only do stable, adaptable middleborns seem to have the best chances of making a marriage work, they also make dependable, lifelong friends". (Oldest children are better off marrying middles or youngest children. Youngest children are better off marrying oldest or middle children. In contrast, middles can also stay successfully married to middles.)

The downside is that in some cases middleborns can be too self-effacing or laid-back.

The book also notes that in terms of work, middleborns are great negotiators and often work in areas of social justice. They tend to choose their work based on internal motivation, whereas firstborns will be more influenced by family expectations.

The book finishes with an observation that there will be fewer middle children in Western countries in future, as families shrink in size.