Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was “The Brady Bunch.” I grew up as one of three girls, so I guess I related to that side of their blended family. I shared the middle child spot with Jan, but I always wanted to be Cindy for no other reason than Cindy was “the cute one.”
Why was Jan always trying to be like her big sister, Marcia? Why did Cindy get away with everything? Well, it has to do with their birth order. I know, it seems slightly boring, but as a middle child, and a sufferer of “middle child syndrome” for most of my life, I wanted to know how real these stereotypes were.
One day, my neighbor and I were talking about it and she recommended I read “The Birth Order Book” by Dr. Kevin Leman. She lent it to me and to be honest, it sat around for quite a while untouched. But after I finished the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series, I had nothing to read. And I felt guilty about hanging onto the book for so long. So, birth order it was!
It was a slow read and it took me quite a while to get through it, mainly because as the middle child, I wanted to read how accurate the qualities were for the older and younger children as well. And as the mother of an only child, I wanted to know what life held for her, especially since there aren’t many only children here in the East Valley.
Turns out my daughter, who already exhibits traits of perfectionism found in only and firstborn children, could be destined to be a self-centered “lonely only.” Or on the other hand, as Dr. Leman points out, due to today’s society and better parenting, only children aren’t as pressured to be perfect anymore. They often grow up to be well-adjusted people with great initiative and high self-esteem. Let’s hope she’s more Natalie Portman (an only child) than Lindsay Lohan (a firstborn).
As for middle children, well, I seem to fit the mold perfectly. Middle children tend to consider their friends very important in life. Since they feel out of place at home, they/we want to feel important, and our friends do that for us. I will say I am also fiercely loyal to my friends, as I’m sure they will attest to, and loyalty happens to be another middle child trait. Dr. Leman also states that research has shown that middle children don’t have as many hang-ups or problems as firstborns. Cha-Ching, that for me was all I needed to read. My sisters on the other hand will fiercely disagree.
As for the lastborns, well they are always seeking attention and love to be in the limelight. Parents are also tired by the time the last born arrives, so the youngest child is usually left to figure things out themselves. And this is the reason why Cindy Brady got away with everything.
After reading this book, I came to the conclusion that it just solidified what many of us already know. It is useful information to have in your back pocket when dealing with other adults, co-workers and even your own children. Hopefully, it will give you insight into why they are the way they are. And while Jan Brady is probably the most famous middle child, middle children aren’t all bad.
Molds exist for a reason. But, as Dr. Leman points out, there are exceptions to every rule. After years of trying to break the mold, I have adjusted to the fact that I was never Cindy Brady, I was always Jan. And there’s nothing wrong with that.