July 11, 2018

"The Extinction of the Middle Child/They’re becoming an American rarity, just when America could use them the most."

Meade (a middle child) sent me (a middle child) the link to that article at The Cut.
As the ideal number of children per family has shrunk to two — that’s not me speaking, it’s demographics — the middle child, in a very real sense, is disappearing....

[Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler] believed that, by virtue of being burdened neither by excessive expectation (like the firstborn) nor excessive attention (like the lastborn), middleborns are uniquely poised to succeed.... Many of Adler’s notions about birth order have been questioned or even discounted by subsequent psychologists, but his notion that middleness is a secret superpower is enjoying a resurgence. This argument is less about rethinking what attributes a middle child might possess and more about reframing the traditional middle-child attributes as advantages. In this revisionist school of middleness, for example, middle children are seen as skilled diplomats by virtue of being stuck between two siblings. They’re portrayed as loyal romantic partners and friends, because they are both hungry for intimate bonds and willing to compromise to maintain relationships. And they’re believed to be natural innovators, since they’re less likely to feel the weight of parental expectation....
Somewhere in that long piece the author has to struggle with the inconvenient fact that Donald Trump was a middle child. So was Nixon. Workaround: They were "functionally firstborn" (because their older brother died).

97 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

I did not read this yet but his theory is the most interesting new idea I have heard in years. I am not exaggerating. And yes, I am a middle child.

rhhardin said...

It's the first child that's missing.

Michael K said...

My son Joe is the middle child of five.

Doing very well.

He is also the youngest of the first three. Then eleven years before the next. Then ten before the last.

Ralph L said...

I feel sorry for all the only child's out there. Too much attention when you're young, no one to share your memories with when you're old. And stuck looking after declining parents.

joshbraid said...

Middle children are the most adventurous in trying new ways, new lifestyles, etc. .

Ralph L said...

Michael K, presumably having different mothers (or fathers) changes the dynamic.

J. Farmer said...

My mentor was a devotee of Murray Bowen, the Georgetown psychiatrist who developed systemic therapy and helped to invent family therapy. Sibling position was a major concept in Bowen's theoretical framework. Unfortunately, since Bowen's time, the empirical data has grown more and more against the effects of birth-order position.

The idea that birth-order position has a lasting impact on personality has been discussed for the past 100 years. Recent large-scale studies have indicated that birth-order effects on the Big Five personality traits are negligible. In the current study, we examined a variety of more narrow personality traits in a large representative sample (n = 6,500–10,500 in between-family analyses; n = 900–1,200 in within-family analyses). We used specification-curve analysis to assess evidence for birth-order effects across a range of models implementing defensible yet arbitrary analytical decisions (e.g., whether to control for age effects or to exclude participants on the basis of sibling spacing). Although specification-curve analysis clearly confirmed the previously reported birth-order effect on intellect, we found no meaningful effects on life satisfaction, locus of control, interpersonal trust, reciprocity, risk taking, patience, impulsivity, or political orientation. The lack of meaningful birth-order effects on self-reports of personality was not limited to broad traits but also held for more narrowly defined characteristics.

-Probing Birth-Order Effects on Narrow Traits Using Specification-Curve Analysis

Henry said...

Adler's theories about birth order have no empirical grounding.

Might as well theorize about the astrological sign of middle children.

Matthew Sablan said...

As the middle child, I always joked: "I got all the responsibility my older sibling didn't want, but none of the perks my younger one got."

Fernandistein said...

"Claims about birth order effects on personality have received much attention in scientific research, with the conclusion from the largest, best-designed research being that effects are zero [6] or near zero.[11]"

Rae said...

In a family with five children, are there three middle children? In a family of 11, are there nine?

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

If DT was a middle child, that means all middle children are literally Hitler/Handmaid's Tale.

No tampons for you. Frat Boy.

Fernandistein said...

Henry said...
Might as well theorize about the astrological sign of middle children.


What's wrong with that? Is it dumber than anecdotes?

First-born loves to be number one, so it’s no surprise that these audacious children are the first to be born. Bold and ambitious, the first-born dives headfirst into even the most challenging situations.

Second-borns enjoy relaxing in serene, bucolic environments, surrounded by soft sounds, soothing aromas, and succulent flavors.

Roll out the red carpet, because a third-born has arrived! Third-borns are spirited kings and queens of the sibling jungle. They’re delighted to embrace their royal status: Vivacious, theatrical, and passionate, third-born love to bask in the spotlight and celebrate themselves.

The last-born has absorbed every lesson — the joys and the pain, the hopes and the fears — learned by all of the other siblings.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Obat Bius Chloroform Di Jakarta
Obat Bius Chlorophyll Di Jakarta
Obat Bius Trivam Di Jakarta
Obat Bius Liquid Sex Di Jakarta
Obat Tidur Sleeping Beauty Di Jakarta


Damn it! I've been chanting this for 10 minutes and nothings happened yet!

MathMom said...

I'm the middle of five, and now with my older brother and younger brother gone, still the middle of the remaining three.

My mother was one of 13, and the one that was the biggest handful of the thirteen was the middlest of the 13 (7th), who was also the middle of three boys, 6th, 7th and 8th.

I'll bet there were many days when my Grandma didn't know much about what at least eight of them were up to.

mccullough said...

Whatever effect, if any, this birth order stuff has would likely be a result of childhood not adulthood. Trump was an adult when his brother died, just like JFK.

Also, age difference matters (as does half sibling). Trumps first three kids would have some effect. Same mom and Dad and all born within six years. (Ivanka is the middle child of the originals). The last two are much younger and have different moms.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree with Josh that middles tend to be the most adventurous. And maybe the least tethered to the parents. Not the least bit surprised that middles like Trump and Nixon could successfully run for President.

One thing that stands out for me about middles is that they tend to be the most selfish. My partner was middle middle of 5, and I was the oldest. She loved Halloween growing up because she could hoard her candy, then essentially sell it to her siblings at excessive prices. She doesn’t share well, and I sometimes punch her buttons by exploiting that. Eating a bite of her food is one way of doing that. Right now, our big fight is that she owns this house, and won’t share. I just bought the lots next door, and she expects me to share equally on the title. I am not going to share ownership of at least one of the lots, because I plan to build a garaget and man cave there. Worse, the other half the year we live in my house, which she also controls (ok, she is a woman, so I should expect that). At least I am not sharing a bank account with a youngest, who tend to be the least responsible with money.

Funny thing is that she has no conception of how much being a middle is built into her personality. It’s very clearly an unconscious bias on her part. And, yes, she gets huffy, when I point out that I just triggered her middle child selfishness. But then, she gets even by punching my oldest child responsibly button.

Harold said...

This whole middle child thing seems to very imprecise. Does it matter how many years there are between the kids? My mother had 3 children from her first marriage (a girl and two boys) and two boys with my father. My sister was oldest which made my oldest half brother the middle child until my brother and I were born. At that point my second oldest brother became the middle of 5. Since my oldest brother was 12 when I was born that meant he had 11 years of being the middle child, is that enough to lock in the effect? Sadly my sister was killed in a car accident at 17 (when I was 4) which meant that my second oldest brother only had 4 years of middle child mojo. Since there are still 4 of us, who lays claim to being the middle child? Does it matter that my parents divorced a year after my sister's death and my youngest brother and I were raised by my dad because at that point there's only oldest and youngest.

Paul Mac said...

Hitler was a middle child just for reference, his older siblings all died young as well, so he may have been "functionally firstborn" as well, there were however other children from previous marriage in the house.

Correlation = causation, when convenient, like with so many other things.

J. Farmer said...

Roll out the red carpet, because a third-born has arrived! Third-borns are spirited kings and queens of the sibling jungle. They’re delighted to embrace their royal status: Vivacious, theatrical, and passionate, third-born love to bask in the spotlight and celebrate themselves.

As a third and final born, I can confirm that this is 100% accurate :P

Bruce Hayden said...

“In a family with five children, are there three middle children? In a family of 11, are there nine?”

In my family of 5, there were 2 oldests, two middles, and one youngest. My next brother never quite got the fact that he wasn’t oldest. So, has spent his life competing with me. Same college, same major, same graduate degrees, etc. he is happy now though - we elected him president of our family company upon the death of our father. On the flip side, when the youngest died (as a senior in college), the second youngest adamantly refused to move into the youngest slot.

One thing to keep in mind is that if there is any validity in birth order, and there are a number of kids, you can end up with an oldest boy and an oldest girl, or ditto for the youngests. For example, I know one guy with an older sister and two younger brothers. He essentially took responsibility for hiring and keeping his younger brothers employed. Not that the middle one couldn’t have done so himself, but older brother was able to pay him better. Only became a problem when he sold the business, and didn’t give it to his younger brothers.

Bruce Hayden said...

“My next brother never quite got the fact that he wasn’t oldest.”

None of my (younger) brothers thought it nearly as humorous as I did when I would explain the concept of primogeniture to them. Or when I explained heir and spare(s) to them. Or, really that our parents wanted a boy, got one, then wanted a girl, and kept failing there. I think that this might have been hardest with the middles, knowing that they were supposed to have been girls. Or, so they were told by their oldest brother.

Ralph L said...

My parents were going to have a 4th, but after I was born, the doctor told my mother she'd better not. Don't know what he saw--loose uteroos?

RigelDog said...

Ok I read the article and the reasoning put forth to discount Trump as a true middle child is tendentious slop. Trump is #4 out of 5 kids. The oldest is a woman of great accomplishment and strength (Federal Circuit judge), whom Trump has always said he admired. He also has an older sister with accomplishments of her own. Then he had an older brother, who died of alcoholism when Donald was THIRTY-FIVE years old. Per the article, "some say" he may have become a de facto oldest child because of his brother dying. Those with enough brain power to know to put our socks on before our shoes would wonder what to make of the fact that he had two older, strong, very-much-alive sisters,and that his brother didn't die until Donald was 35---presumably after his formative childhood years.

Michael K said...

Blogger Ralph L said...
Michael K, presumably having different mothers (or fathers) changes the dynamic.


I'm sure it does but they all consider each other siblings. They are all quite close.

Roughcoat said...

Re Hitler: He had an older half brother, Alois Jr, born 1882 (Adolf was born in 1889.) Alois Jr had an affair with an Irish woman, Brigit Dowling, who gave birth to William Patrick Stuart-Houston, né Hitler. "Willy" was Hitler's nephew. He immigrated to the United States in 1939, became an American citizen, and served honorably the U.S. Navy during World War II -- he wounded in action and received a Purple Heart. He got married and had four Baby Boomer sons, surnamed Stuart-Houston. Two died in the 1980s, without issue. I think the other two may still be alive. I don't know whether they have any children.

Irish and German, great combination (I am one). Thankfully my father's uncles were not genocidal tyrants, so I've got that going for me.

Michael K said...

when I point out that I just triggered her middle child selfishness. But then, she gets even by punching my oldest child responsibly button.

I disagree about the selfish middle child.

My first wife was an only child and selfish is her middle name. Her youngest, my middle one, was lucky to get fed.

He never got baby food. She would just cut up whatever we were having, into smaller pieces and put it on his high chair tray.

He fed himself as soon as he was big enough for a high chair. He was just one too many kids for her.

He is quite successful and has three great kids. He gets along with my wife than with his mother.

Roughcoat said...

I'm the second-born of four, and a second son. In ages past my kind were sent off to become priest or signed with great captains to conquer Ireland or some such. My older brother pretty much got everything while I pretty much had to make my own way. We're still uncertain as to how I turned out.

J. Farmer said...

When I first got started in the business, I was a strong advocate for the notion that early childhood experiences were paramount in the shaping of personality and interpersonal dynamics in adulthood and that these patterns were ingrained and very difficult to alter without significant outside intervention. As I have gotten older and more experienced, I have become a stronger believer in the role of genes in shaping behavior. And while genes always interact with the environment, and early childhood experiences are still important, I'm more likely to imagine "early childhood" as, say, the first 18 months as opposed to the first five years. Reading Judith Harris' The Nurture Assumption was a major milestone.

CJinPA said...

"The Extinction of the Middle Child/They’re becoming an American rarity," just when America could use them the most.

I first read that to be a lament on the U.S. dying demographically due to low birth rates. "Problematic observation," I thought. But the lament is in regards to losing the leaders that middle children are said to become. Bullet dodged.

Michael K said...

I have become a stronger believer in the role of genes in shaping behavior.

Pinker's "The Blank Slate" convinced me.

When I finished it, I suggested my leftist daughter read it. She had a BA in Anthropology. She told me she would not read it unless I read Stephen Jay Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man, </a< a leftist bible.

I had read it and had it in my library. She still refused to read the Pinker book.

Michael K said...


Blogger Roughcoat said...
I'm the second-born of four, and a second son


My grandfather was the third of 12, nine of them sons.

My father was in the middle of 10.

I've gotten interested in Genealogy in recent years and it is interesting to see those huge families.

The kids all lived to adulthood because they were all farmers, the healthy place to grow up.

tim in vermont said...

As the 7th child of a 7th child, and not even the youngest, I can tell you that large families might be overrated, though I am grateful to have been born.

Professional lady said...

I'm the 4th of 6. I think I'm lucky to come from a big family. It's a lot of fun.

exhelodrvr1 said...

How old was Trump when his brother died?

And I'm a middle child, and I'm perfect!

mockturtle said...

One thing that stands out for me about middles is that they tend to be the most selfish. My partner was middle middle of 5, and I was the oldest. She loved Halloween growing up because she could hoard her candy, then essentially sell it to her siblings at excessive prices.

Bruce, that was my younger brother [middle child] to a tee. He always had his allowance by the end of the week but would loan it to us with interest. He was also known to spit into a box of Cracker Jacks so my sister and I wouldn't want any.

exhelodrvr1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roughcoat said...

Being a child in a huge extended family in the 1950s was wonderful. The holiday gatherings were legendary and brilliant, we were legion, Irish and Germans talking, singing, feasting. I do miss that. I miss that a lot.

traditionalguy said...

The eldest are usually entitled to honor they don't have to earn. The youngest are the entertainers that have attention given for their performances. But the middles are the invisible and overlooked ones. And they usualy have to find a role to play somewhere else which can be a good challenge they succeed well at in life.

Trump has found many roles and succeeded at them all. Diplomacy is also strong in the middle's skill set. It is amazing to watch one.

LincolnTf said...

I'm a middle child. My older brother was a cop in Massachusetts for 27 years before retiring, my younger sister has raised 5 great boys and has been a fashion model since her teens. I'm a Sports broadcaster, and a member of MENSA. Birth order is pretty irrelevant.

dreams said...

I was a middle child of five children so that is more like an "also ran" or just another kid.

Rob McLean said...

Donald Trump was a middle child

Hitler was a middle child

Foe God's sake, people, how much more proof do you need?!

Jim at said...

Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!

Comanche Voter said...

I was the middle child of three. Don't know about excessive expectations on first born or necessarily excessive attention for the youngest. We were bright kids. Pressure was on all of us to produce. High school Valedictorian and later summa cum laude and graduate degrees for number one, Order of the Coif and Phi Beta Kappa at Cal for two and three about did it for the three of us. lI think we had four post graduate degrees between us. I didn't worry much about birth order and I don't think my siblings did either.

Now the oldest was a master teacher of English. She complained that her younger brothers were paid more than her due to our choice of careers. Math was not her strong point in that she failed to appreciate the financial benefits of a public pension system versus those in the corporate world.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

There are so many variations to this in modern life I don't know how you could actually study it. Too many variables. Spacing? Gender? Blended families? Divorce? Socioeconomics? Abuse? How can you possibly tease anything out about birth order and separate it out from all these other effects on development?

I mean I'm technically the middle of three, but my older sister is 9 years older and has a different dad than I do (Mom's short lived first marriage). I'm the product of anonymous sperm donation, as is my younger brother. Mom divorced my dad when I was 5 and brother was 2. Had a stepdad for a while, as well as a couple of long-term "Mom's boyfriend"s. We had so many weird variables in our upbringing that birth order seems way the least of it.

My own kids too. I had three girls, then adopted a boy, then divorced first husband, remarried, and had two more girls. So, again, birth order seems like the least important circumstance in their reality.

LincolnTf said...

Birth order is right up there with Horoscopes for predicting future development.

gadfly said...

Not sure why rebellious "middles" are special. From my perspective and that of my monozygotic twin brother, just happen to consider multiple birth siblings to be special - the talk of family.

In cases such as with twins, you have a family within a family -- a unit that operates independently of birth order. "A twin will never act like a middle-born; he will always act like a firstborn or a baby." says Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist who has studied birth order since 1967 and is author of "The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are" Since twins are perceived as a single unit - likely even referred to as "the twins" -- they separate themselves from the traditional family and revel in their special position.

It has occurred to me that our insufferable president might have been better off (and all Americans, as well) had he had a look-a-like brother who knew exactly what he was thinking.

Freeman Hunt said...

My middle kid is pretty great. So are the oldest and youngest. I may be a little biased.

(Interestingly, after "I may be a little," predictive text gave me the options of "French" and "insecticide.")

Freeman Hunt said...

My first grade teacher, who was a model teacher--absolutely excelled in that profession, has a twin sister. They have always been best friends and have always lived together. Having a twin seems fun.

The Godfather said...

Nobody seems to be focusing on the challenges faced by the middle child of a couple that has no children. I think there are more and more no-child families. Am I wrong?

Browndog said...

I'm a middle child by virtue of my younger sisters being twins. That counts, right?

Ryan said...

I am second of 7. So I guess that is a middle child??

DanTheMan said...

>>Third-borns are spirited kings and queens of the sibling jungle. They’re delighted to embrace their royal status: Vivacious, theatrical, and passionate, third-born love to bask in the spotlight and celebrate themselves.

>As a third and final born, I can confirm that this is 100% accurate :P

Farmer, that description fits our third born perfectly as well. The family joke is that she's either going to be President, or head of an international crime syndicate.

As to middle children being selfish...
Our middle daughter is at Lackland AFB right now, going through USAF basic training. Serving her country for four years is about the least selfish thing I can think of.

Mr. and Mrs. DtM are insanely proud of her.

Trumpit said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/09/science/orcas-whales-endangered.html

Say goodbye to killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. Sad! Trump doesn't give a damn, and neither does the GOP. Extinction is forever. Trump's got to go. Ho Ho Ho.

James K said...

Is there a middle child with four children? I suppose there are either two or zero. (I’m third of four.).

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sydney said...

Every child is born into a different family.

Henry said...

One thing about middle children is that they tend to be girls named after their great-grandmothers on their mother's side.

Oldest children are more likely to go by their middle name than second oldest.

Fifth of seven tend to marry oldests who go by middle name and name their middlest after the oldest's grandmother.

tim in vermont said...

I'm the 4th of 6. I think I'm lucky to come from a big family. It’s a lot of fun.

Six is a big family now, but it wouldn’t qualify in the old days. But I am happy for you.

Bruce Hayden said...

“My first wife was an only child and selfish is her middle name. Her youngest, my middle one, was lucky to get fed.”

I agree about onlys. Got one married into our family, and they have no conception about how selfish they often are. I have an only, and sharing is one of the reasons that I wanted more (we had agreed on >= 2, but I was divorced before we could have a 2nd). They turned out decent (Summa cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, STEM PhD), but there were times when they probably could have worked a bit harder. They struggle sometimes with their inability to really understand sharing, as do kids from larger families.

“Bruce, that was my younger brother [middle child] to a tee. He always had his allowance by the end of the week but would loan it to us with interest. He was also known to spit into a box of Cracker Jacks so my sister and I wouldn't want any.”

I get the threat from her on occasion, but so far, I doubt that she has done so (besides, we share such already, so the threat is fairly hollow) and she indicated that she did do that growing up to her siblings. Not in the stuff being resold to her siblings, but otherwise.

I expect that she was the worst tattletale too, among the 5 (or 6) kids. I think that with the 5 boys in my family, growing up, the order for being tattletales was 3, 4, 2, 5, and 1 (me). Years later, I figured out that a good part of that was younger siblings vying for attention with a mother who was now fixated on even younger kids, by ratting out their older siblings. As long as they were the youngest, they were fine. It was only when displaced from that position that they began this vile behavior (from the one who lost his position as youngest when a year old).

n.n said...

the middle child of a couple that has no children

A child that exists at the twilight fringe. One day, Stork will make an unPlanned delivery, and that child will be deemed worthy and viable.

Browndog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Browndog said...

Blogger Henry said...

One thing about middle children is that they tend to be girls named after their great-grandmothers on their mother's side.

How odd.

All of my sisters were given French names--by my mother to honor her grandmother.

rcocean said...

Many "middle Kids" have become famous through sheer luck.

Ike had several brothers who were thought smarter than he. One was a lawyer, another owned a chain of drugstores, and the third was academic and highly placed New Dealer.

In June 1941, Col. Eisenhower was thought the least successful Brother at the family reunion.

And of course, Joe Jnr. was the Kennedy slated to be President, and MacArthur's older brother was outpacing "Doug" on his way to great things when he died in the middle 1920s.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

@Browndog -- if one of the names is Sylvia, we're really in an alternate dimension.

We named our middle child after my wife's grandmother. It was a grandchild's promise, kept.

I went to the mat with anecdote.

Bob Boyd said...

The Russians meddled in the Trump family birth order.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

"Middle child" was of course slated to become obsolete in one-child-policy China. Along with other outdated, bourgeois words, like "brother," "sister," "aunt," "uncle," "niece," "nephew" ... "Father," "son," "mother," and "daughter" remained, for the time being.

Elder of two, here, though my younger sister died many years ago (I was already an adult, though). Hubby is an actual middle child, third of five (damn, sounds like we're talking about the Borg here).

MountainMan said...

I am the middle child. I always understood that traditionally the middle child was ignored. It never felt that way to me, but my older brother and younger sister both got family names while I was named for the doctor that delivered me. I guess they waited until the last minute.

Browndog said...

Henry said...

@Browndog -


Marcia-Michelle-Jeanne

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

I am one of two middle children in my family. The oldest sibling is my sister who got married and moved out when she was 18. Of course, this was not unusual in 1966. My older brother, who is seven years older than me, was the good child and Mother's favorite. I was a classic middle-child, once I hit my teens I began acting out and was extremely rebellious and got into all sorts of relatively minor trouble, mostly drinking related, but I did lots of drugs and I could have gotten into much greater trouble but never got caught. My younger brother, four years younger than me, is a classic lost child. He was practically invisible. I was, by far, the most disruptive and created the most worry for my parents but I am the only one who even went to college, much less graduated, and then I ended up in law school. At the time each of my parents died, I was generally doing very well, personally and otherwise, and assumed the leadership role in all of their final affairs. I am still, by far, the most outspoken and assertive.

DanTheMan said...

Can you be the first born of three, but identify with a different birth order expression?

Asking for a friend...

Henry said...

I'm a zero.

wildswan said...

In the next generation there will be a lot of middle children. In this generation 25% of women have three or more children. The rest have two, one or none. So 75% of families have two or fewer children. But when those children grow up the children from the 25% will be the majority.

It might seem that the two-child or one-child will be the majority: 95 to 75

25 X 3 (or more) = 75
40 X 2 = 80
15 X 1 = 15
20 X 0 = 0

But it's 3 OR MORE. There's differing percentages of how many families have more than three children but it adds up to a very substantial majority in the next generation. For example, Suppose 3% to have 6 (18-3= 15), 1% to have 10 (10-3=7) 15+7 = 22. 75 + 22= 97. 97 from three-child or more; 95 from two-child or less. The actual numbers are much higher but I'm sure less than 25% are still following my argument so I won't do a complete table.

Anyhow, the point is that, in America at any rate, the majority of the adults in the next generation will come from 25% of the families in this generation. This group includes many religious families and many stay-at-home moms who are despised by the adults of today. Yet the adults of today expect that these derided children, when grown-up, will be happy to have their paychecks majorly dunned by Social Security for all the childless adults that despised them and their parents. Ain't gonna happen.

People mostly don't look ahead so the welfare state collapse will just suddenly happen like a building collapse, falling especially hard on older single women. Julia will be homeless in San Francisco. This is why I keep saying that women should have the consequences of the demographic regime they create with reproductive choices explained to them while they still have those choices to make. But the welfare state is hiding these facts from women (and men). I'm not sure why.

PS I'm a part of the middle of nine but the oldest girl. Go figure.

h said...

Birth order was a big theory in the 1980s. (And I find it a compelling theory.) But as I recall there was something about a middle child being more of a moderator/arbitrator. THat's not inconsistent with this theory but it is a little different.

Michael K said...

It has occurred to me that our insufferable president might have been better off (and all Americans, as well) had he had a look-a-like brother who knew exactly what he was thinking.

gadfly, like trumpit, has to inject a small dose of Trump hate into an interesting thread.

Trump was greatly influenced by the failure of his older brother. That's why he doesn't smoke or drink.

The birth order of twins is important. The second twin is often a little dumber because of anoxia.

Which were you ?

n.n said...

Can you be the first born of three, but identify with a different birth order expression?

The correlation may not be with birth order, but age of the womb (and sperm). A younger, healthier womb produces a healthier child. We know, for example, that genetic integrity is dependent on age. Mental and physical fitness may also be significant to providing an environmentally friendly womb.

Be said...

I am the first born of a couple middle children (Mother - Middle Child, Borderline. Father - Middle Child - Autistic; both Ann's Age.) . Ann is an amazing curator of all sorts of things that a respected, trained psycopath interests herself in. Respect.

n.n said...

Pro-Choice or selective-child. Couples are choosing their first child, aborting their second child, and then choosing their third child. Still, news of contemporary extinctions may only be evidence of a consensus (e.g. hope) that is backed by circumstantial evidence and political myth. The ducks may yet prevail over the dodo and lesser dynasties... and cats in hats.

tim in vermont said...

“For one penny you can buy two sparrows, but not a sparrow falls to the ground without Trump getting the blame." It’s right there in the Bible!

cronus titan said...

The birth order theory is worthless psychobabble. The comments are a good reflection: Everyone has a story and no two are the same. Makes for entertaining kitchen talk, and the occasional insult (the oldest is bossy, middle crave attention, youngest the golden cub. Insert your own negative trait) but ultimately means nothing.

My story? Older sister by about three years, younger brother by ten years. All with advanced degrees with good jobs in different fields. Still tight with my brother. My sister on the other hand never really accepted not being an only child but that is another story. It amuses me and my brother to tell her that after 45 years she really does not need parental validation anymore.

Todd Galle said...

I am in line with Matthew S.'s line of thinking, speaking as a middle child of 3. Eldest always too busy, youngest still to young, stuff hits the middle. Trash night, lawn mowing, weeding, dog walking, etc. I did learn responsibility early, so there is that. I'm not quite in my mid 50s, and my pair of children are out of college with no loan debt, while my siblings kids are not yet college age. Hope to be mortgage debt free soon, although my wife wants to redo the kitchen. While it may have sucked to miss all the pick up ball games and such when I was in my teens, looking it back, that may have been worth the investment. I am reminded of a mention in G. McD. Fraser's memoir, 'Quartered Safe Out Here', where his unit was attacking a Japanese position, and the reaction of his NCO when he learned they were to be the second of 3 advancing lines, that the middle always catches the shit.

Big Mike said...

I came from a family with three children, however the twins made it difficult to determine who, precisely, the middle child was.

Drago said...

Michael K: "gadfly, like trumpit, has to inject a small dose of Trump hate into an interesting thread."

And he does it in a way that is even more pathetic than LLR Chuck.

Hence the nickname "The Poor Man's LLR Chuck".

tim in vermont said...

I think that there are too many variables to tease out any kind of meaning. It would take a huge amount of data, quality data. Data about each of the children of families of all sizes and from multiple economic backgrounds. Still, obviously oldest child is different than the youngest child, different than the middle child, but I wouldn’t put a lot of money on any predictions that one makes from birth order. In our family, it was broken into subgroups of older kids, middle kids, and youngest kids. They concept of “middle child” doesn’t exist. A very large family is fluid with some leaving as others come in.

Merny11 said...

Well I am the youngest of 8 and have 5 of my own. My siblings said I was “spoiled”, but I may be the softest hearted of the group - and the one who steps up to plan family things -who knows what that means?
My 5, child number three has the least confidence in spite of being the most intelligent -
Just so many factors to influence it all that who knows???

n.n said...

Science is the art of correlation. Discovering patterns, and forming pictures.

Howard said...

Doc Mike. Thanks for the Steven Pinker reference. He's another inconvenient liberal academic promoted on the Joe Rogan Podcast. Perhaps you can get your daughter to listen to his short TED Talk on Blank Slate

Theodore James said...

I was the youngest of three.

The first born did have pressures and she exceeded expectations.

The middle child was my brother who was just smart enough to scrape by. He was his own worst enemy in life.

Me? I was a "latch key" and I did OK.

Perhaps middle kids do better in non blue collar families.

Rusty said...

I too am a middle child.

Michael K said...

Perhaps you can get your daughter to listen to his short TED Talk on Blank Slate

Her mother and I are listening to an audio version of the book now. I'm going to suggest she might want to do so now.

She's currently in her "back to the woods" phase.

Bad Lieutenant said...

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Christy said...

Late to the debate, but I was wondering if birth order influences have changed, for the formerly vast middle class, in the last half century? Listening to tales of my mother, 5 of 9 growing up on a farmm, it is clear that everyone took on more responsibility with each new sibling- which doesn't happen today.

Portlandmermaid said...

The middle child gets to retreat, or at least, that was my experience.

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DanTheMan said...

>>Damn it! I've been chanting this for 10 minutes and nothings happened yet!

Hey! Knock it off! My dog keeps disappearing and reappearing!

Bad Lieutenant said...

Hey! Knock it off! My dog keeps disappearing and reappearing!


Which is the problem?