I’ll admit I haven’t read the book which is the subject of this article, but if the uncritical article is any guide to its contents, I won’t be anytime soon.
It’s not that the hypothesised ‘middle child syndrome’ is not of interest to society – on the contrary, it has been the stuff of myth ever since I can remember, and so I would welcome any analysis of it in the style of the ‘Myth Busters’.
However, reading quotes from its author only leads to disappointment if you were after some real research into this area.
What we have from her are not revealing snippets of data, but rather a collection of horoscope-style generalisations and motherhood statements, which could really apply to anyone depending on when you ask.
Of most concern are her own words that she wrote the book:
“..to dispel the idea that middles are resentful and angry.”
This smacks of reaching a conclusion, or holding an opinion, and then going out to find evidence which supports it (while at the same time probably discarding evidence which doesn’t). See this link to confirmation bias.
So back to her characterisation of middle-born. She says of them:
- great benefits in the areas of independence, stable relationships and job satisfaction
- often make the best leaders, diplomats and marital partners
- middle-borns have these great negotiating skills and they’re innovators
- Their ability to think outside the box is something I’d like people to recognise
- often show a heightened degree of empathy
- They’re more likely to work for non-profits
- Middles seem more likely to have more children themselves. They like the feeling of community
- they may be more adventurous within their relationships
- One study showed they were less judgmental on sexual behaviour
- One of the things they’re really good at is compromise
“When I go to a university faculty meeting, there are way more first-borns and there is a lot of arguing. They’re not very good at compromise.”
“Everyone assumes he’s a first-born. His older sister is an accountant and fits very well with what a first-born is supposed to be. Gates not only exhibits the leadership and innovative skills that middle-born children often excel in, but his philanthropic efforts fit within the group’s traits.”