I can remember when my parents told me that I was going to be a big sister, not knowing what it would mean to be the middle child. At almost 8 years old, I was thrilled! Until then I had been the little sister. The pest and the last to do everything. The one who was always left out.
But now I would be a big sister. I’d have a playmate, a friend who I would never leave out. I’d have someone to do everything with! (Fast forward a couple years when all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends, and my pesky little sister would not leave us alone! She followed me everywhere and wanted to do everything I did.)
But secretly, that’s the beauty of being the middle sister. I’ve had the chance to experience being both a little sister and a big sister. This once-hated birth place has now given me a unique perspective as I mother two girls of my own.
How Being the Middle Child Has Helped Me Parent My Oldest:
I know the importance of teaching her compassion. As a big sister, it’s important to always respond with compassion and sympathy. There will be times where my older daughter will be angry with her younger sister. I know firsthand that sisters argue. It’s my place to teach her that instead of yelling or responding with fury, the right thing to do is to be understanding and forgive.
I can pull from experience to teach my daughter patience. Often, I find myself reminding my older daughter that her sister is smaller than she is, and that she needs to be kind and patient with her. I know as an older sister it can be annoying to have a little kid follow you around all the time. But I also know that those moments are the first steps in building a lifelong friendship. If I teach my daughter to be patient with her sister, I’m building a foundation for their future relationship.
I can help my older daughter set a good example for her sister. She’ll be the first person her sister looks up to, sometimes to her dismay. Somewhere around high school I realized how important it was to be a role model to my younger sister. There are so many bad influences in this world. I would much rather be someone my little sister can look up to. We all make bad decisions, but somehow, having in the back of my head that my sister was watching and learning from me, helped me choose right from wrong more often than not. If I can convey this message to my older daughter early on, then I’m hopeful she will strive to make good decisions not only for herself, but for her sibling.
How Being a Middle Child Has Helped Me Parent My Youngest:
I’m teaching her independence. There will be times when my younger daughter will feel left out. It wouldn’t be fair or realistic for me to expect my oldest to include her sister all the time. I remember sitting on the sidelines watching my older sister play with her friends quite a bit as a child. At the time I felt sad and hated being left out, but looking back I realize the independence this gave me. I learned to make my own friends and create my own games. In times when my own daughter is feeling left out, I can use it as a teaching moment for her to foster independence and creativity to make her own fun.
Being the little sister also builds resilience. As a little sister I was left out, picked on, and often ended up with hurt feelings. Though I hope my older daughter is always kind to her younger sister, I know there will be times when my youngest ends up disappointed. Thankfully, as a little sister myself, I’ll be able to relate to her and help her quickly overcome these hurt feelings. And she will be more resilient because of it.
As a kid I always resented being the middle child. In typical middle child fashion I sometimes felt out of place. At times it felt like my older and younger sisters got more time and more attention than I did. But now, as a parent of two girls myself, I’m glad that I’m the middle child, because I have finally found my place.