As the middle child myself, when I was younger, I didn’t feel like there was anything special about me and my role in our family.
I wasn’t the oldest. I wasn’t the youngest. I wasn’t the only boy or the only girl. I was just there. I was there in the middle, with nothing innately setting me apart.
I don’t think it’s anything to do with my parents, something they did or didn’t do. I think there just might be something to the whole birth order thing. I thought that when I had a family of my own, that by simply being aware of this, it would help me when and if I had a middle child.
And now I do have a middle child…
Her older brother has autism and can require extra attention. Her younger sister is a baby and can require extra attention. Even with my best intentions, this sweet, middle child daughter of mine sometimes gets overlooked.
I started to worry.
I became worried that since she is so helpful, I might be sending the message that she needs to be a people pleaser. I became worried that she might eventually start acting out to get her share of attention, or that she might start to think she’s not worthy. I decided it was time to go beyond awareness.
I realized I need to be intentional.
I enrolled her in a dance class, something new and just for her, that she didn’t have to share with her siblings. It became more than that, though. I drove her to class by myself, making sure we talked the whole drive there. I made sure to praise her on the drive back home.
I’ve started reading to her and her big brother separately in the evenings. This way, she can pick her own books and get her own snuggles. I try to make sure there are just as many pictures taken of her as there are of the baby. She is funny and strong and kind and smart and creative and sassy. So I make a point to look her in her eyes and tell her that.
I try to multitask less so my focus isn’t split. There are still times when there is just not enough of me to go around. If one of the other siblings needs something that is more urgent while she is trying to talk to me, I try to take a moment to tell her that I see her and I hear her. I let her know that even though I can’t stop to listen to her right then, as soon as I am able to, I will give her my undivided attention.
I hope by doing these things it helps to keep her from feeling lost in the shuffle, or secondary.