Category Archives: middle child

Oh, Brother!


From those Early Childhood classes to the Psych coursework, I have

a few pieces of information about birth order, siblings and the “onlies”

in the family. I hope to just talk and compare the studies and learnings

with my own experience with two brothers and my three children.

Since my six grandchildren are from age nine to age two, like little

stair steps, I probably will not include their growth so far or make any

hasty “predictions!”

Let’s think about the only children out there. I am sure most of you

have wished to be an “only child” at least once in your life! Their

secure life, being the center of their parents’ “doting” eyes, more

possession, and all new clothes, made me envious at times! I had

one good friend throughout my entire life who was an only child.

I am writing to a good, new friend, Tracy on our blog sites who is

lauching her son out into the world of college and it is a scary but

exciting moment for her.

The wisdom that I learned from rereading some notes on child

development about only children also includes not just their feeling

of security. I read that they relate to adults better, grow up being

more confident in mature or “adult” relationships, and they have

a parent or set of parents who introduce more activities, social

settings and make up for no siblings by being close knit. I am still

confident that this is a wonderful position to be in.

In the next “category,” are the first born children. I could go on

and on about my personal experience of being 18 months older

than my next brother and then 3 years older than my youngest

but who  wants to know more about Me? Ha!

There is a predominant “theme” going on, when you read about

how successful, both professionally and monetarily the first born

children achieve. This is not so true in my case, but having the

children, divorce and life were some setbacks. Both my brothers

have had great relationships with women with children. My

“youngest” brother has spent over twenty years with his wife,

who had three children of her own. I like that part of our personal

journeys, since he says, my having three children, being single

and having some similar dark hair and eyes could have contributed

to their successful marriage.

Although genes, parents attitudes and reactions along with that

ever present “danger” and sometimes “blessing” of peers (with

peer pressure) studies still say the relationship of siblings has

a huge impact on the way we see things and carry out our lives.

Certainly, in most cases, your brothers and sisters are the ones

who are your ready made play pals. They can impact upon your

life through those 10 -17 hours a week you spend once school

starts. Before school, obviously, endless hours can pass by yourself,

as an “only” or with your sibling(s).

First borns have become the majority of our Presidents, leaders

and again “successes” in the measurable ways that studies are

carried out. There have been even a few to impart this fact: First

borns may have higher IQ’s. I suppose, looking at it as a parent,

you spend a lot of time on that first one. I didn’t have much time

since my first husband envied the wonderfully combined ways

that my brothers and I worked as a team. So, we chose to “make”

a second baby (even finding out a higher probability way to have

a boy for our second child so we could be “finished.”) His brother

and sister, being 5 and 7 years older than he, made him feel

separated and not included in their older life style. It did contribute

to him rolling his big brother’s car out of the sloped drive at age 12

to go on a “cruise!” It also, always to me, made him seem so mature.

Little did I know…!

The second child or even, middle child, becomes a different source

of information. The ways the first born “cut the path” or led the

family are already formed. There are significant ways that the parents

have developed relationships with children through that first born

that impact the next born. The choices and points of view, even the

“rules” and discipline patterns are being developed before you, as

a second child, have come along.

The “middles” go to friends more, studies show, while the first born

goes to his or her parents for information and support, whether

emotional or financial. There are several stereotypes also in this

category, where they seem to not know their way, their position is

more precarious. Sometimes these sterotypes may influence your

thoughts upon reflecting upon your middle child, as they do mine.

Also, they may not be quite fair either. I found by having a son

between two girls, I would make a joke, maybe it would haunt me

later…”My son is the thorn between two roses.” We spent a whole

year in therapy, from age fifteen years to sixteen years old. My son

and I were very close before he turned nine, when I married my

last husband.

This is a little regretful confession, I allowed my second and third

husband to take my son’s position of being the “man in the house”

away. Believe me, I thought for sure this would be a relief! I am a

big analyzer and never dreamed that he loved sitting in the front,

being the navigator. Really! I didn’t know he even liked taking the

garbage out, starting my car and also, the chore of mowing the

lawn! Along came men, twice, (one for two years and then a

span of seven years of singledom, then another for 13 years

who each “took his position away.”) I was so sad when Dr. Miguel

Hernandez intoned these words to me. I thought he had always

his Dad, my first husband who loved him “best.” Sorry, but it is

true, my ex did not take my daughter (oldest) to any Cincinnati

Reds baseball games or Bengals football games. She stayed at

home with his second and third wives, sometimes to go shop

but usually to maintain by herself.

I thought by putting more time in with the girls, my littlest had

my full attention once the second divorce occurred, that son

would be just fine.

Anyway, the most important part of any time you spend with

your children is to pay attention to what they like. So, after or

before therapy, once a week, we did miniature golf or got a

big bucket of golf balls and whacked away at them. We went

off to bars, to play pool and drink pop with wings. We went on

walks, we talked and we celebrated his sixteenth birthday on

our own, with Mexicans singing their “Feliz cumpleanos” and

how he now had big “cajones!”

I can add to the middle child syndrome saying through the

fine art of observation of my middle brother and my son,

they are very creative, independent, have their own unique

identities and sometimes are more sensitive. They both have

a little “wish they had paid more attention to me.” My son used

to count the Christmas presents and the jelly beans in his

Easter basket. I think they want to really know they are loved!

Whoa! the youngest are amazing individuals in my children and

my brothers and I’s cases. They set their own path, sometimes

more secure in all that “trickled down” love. (This and a few of

the quoted words are all my opinions and not taken from any


The studies include for third or last born children, these lovely

“edicts” they are risk takers, they break the mold, and they

move ahead faster. They have bundles of “baby love” piled

on them. I can tell you this, if I heard it once, I heard it a 1000

times, my little brother was “cute” and “adorable.” He was a

blonde towhead that my brunette brother (18 months younger)

and I would declare, “was the mailman or milkman’s son,”

depending on which way we wanted to try and bring him a little


At U.C. Berkeley, there was an interesting study of three famous

baseball players, all with the last name of DiMaggio. They were,

of course, Joe, (who married the gorgeour icon, Marilyn Monroe!),

Dom and Vince. In the study, they pondered, gathered information,

and came up with the conclusion that the youngest DiMaggio “stole

bases more often” which confirmed the studies in other areas of

the “babies in the family”: They are secure in areas unlike others

in the very same family.

I love this study that was done about favorites. Everyone believes their

parents show favoritism. I felt that my parents were “hardest” on me

and expected more. I am never sure, though, if some of the reasons

were that I was the only girl. There were some advantages to that! I

had my own room, my mother sewed matching dresses for us and I

was chosen to go along to the grocery store and to the Great Northern

Mall in North Olmsted. I was always happy to have these one on one

“ride along” experiences.

Anyway, the study, interestingly enough covered from the grown kids’

points of view compared to the parents. Of course, many parents were

kind and proper in their approach, saying they “loved them all the same.”

I could not disagree more with this statement, as a mother of three, I

loved them all differently, uniquely and favored each during different

stages of their lives. Sorry, but sometimes I relied and loved my oldest

daughter more. I loved the baby child since I knew she was my last one

and I didn’t have to share her, thanks to my ex’s mistake of infidelity

and a very sympathetic court. I got to raise her as my own while sharing

her with my then retired parents, brothers, and along with a generous

and loving (only sister) sister in law! Lastly, my son, like me, being the

only boy, had his own room, his own ways of getting away with things,

after all, a boy should be allowed more freedom (wrong thinking on

my part and very stereotypical! But it happened within my own siblings

and my life, so hard to break that pattern.)

A last intriguing study was done by a man named William Ickes, PhD.

He was a professor of psychology who did his research in 1983. You

probably can look this up for any further interest or verification. He

chose to look at the picture of male and female sibling relationships

and then, take the way they responded in a different setting. When

the girls with older brothers, boys with older sisters were studied

compared to ones who were only children or were oldest. The ones

who had someone to look up to and “emulate” (again my word choice)

This watching, imitating and respecting the ones who had gone before

them, helped these siblings combinations to break the ice and become

more social in a setting established by the researcher. He further

extrapolated that closer knit siblings within this study had more

positive relationships with the opposite sex. So, thank your older

brother or sister for that great marriage or romance, folks!

I feel an interesting end of this thinking and contemplating siblings, is

to picture growing older. I found a few situations that were written

about how the oldest ended up the caretaker of the parent(s). I also

found that sometimes the differences that were well entrenched and

established between siblings changed and evolved, very positively

when grown older.

Death and other tragedies can bring people in families closer or

widen the gap between siblings and parents. Sometimes there is

the hurt egos, the old feelings of neglect and playing the “blame

game.” I would hope, in all sincerity, that illness, death and other

disasters would bring new ties, building and binding those wounds

so that everyone can have a happier future. When my Dad was ill,

I have mentioned we had a jokes and funny stories “rule” that

everyone had to find something to bring smiles to Dad’s faces,

and I will tell you that I will never forget how we all felt so much

closer and so much joy, despite the true reason for our joking.

We tried to carry out some of Dad’s “bucket list” and we did

not cry nor complain. My brothers and uncle had built a ramp

for my Dad’s wheelchair about a week or two in the freezing

cold of winter, before he died on January 27, 2001.

Birth order sometimes affects personality, success rate, happiness

and does reveal continued patterns that show up across the world

in varied studies. Generalities can be proven, but also there will

naturally be exceptions to any “rules!”

My final thought, of course, is to try to repair any damages in your

relationships, whether with siblings, parents or friends. We all have

limited time on this earth, we need to be spending that “guilt free”

and carefree.

Happy endings are always the way that I wish you all to go!

Don’t postpone joy for another day!