I’m the Middle Born Child: The Peacemaker

I’m a Middle born girl. I like being a bit mysterious. When I arrived on the scene, my parents already had a perfect little boy. I watch him all the time. I wish I could do everything he can do.

Sometimes he plays with me and teaches me new things. But sometimes he complains, “Mom, Shannon’s bugging me. Make her leave me alone.” Then the fun is over.

Competitive. When he’s like that, I try and remember things I can do that he can’t. I’m very competitive. He’s such a goody two-shoes, especially in school, but I’m good at sports. Not just one sport, but several sports. I like wearing sweatshirts from my favorite teams with my jeans.

Secretly, sometimes I feel like I’m not good enough. So I don’t even try. I’m afraid I won’t do as well as my older brother.

Being Opposite. Mom says that the personality trait that defines me is to be opposite of my older brother. She calls it the “branching off effect.” She’s a college professor and she uses these big words all the time, like she thinks I understand her. She goes on and on.

“Middle borns are most directly influenced by the child older than them. The child looks at the older child, sizes up the older sibling, and patterns his life according to what he sees. Then often shoots off in another direction.”

I just want to shoot my Velcro arrows at the cat. My perfect older brother would never dare do like they’re paying attention to me for a change.

Nothing’s Fair. I’m pretty concerned about fairness, because nothing’s fair around here. I have to go to bed earlier. I have to share. I have to clean up after my youngest brother. On top of that, I get the least amount of attention from you.

Sometimes I act as the peacemaker in my family, especially between my older brother and my youngest brother. I like people to get along. I’m good at seeing both side of an issue.

Where Do I Fit? I feel like I fit in better with others outside my home. So I just create my own little family. When I make friends, I tend to keep them. I like being a peacemaker and helping people work things out. My friends like that I’m understanding, cooperative, and flexible. They always pay attention to me. They make me feel like I belong.

Dad says, “Honey, you’ll probably be a late bloomer and have a power career where you can use your negotiating skills. You’ll be prepared to become an entrepreneur or a diplomat.”

I’m not sure yet what that all means, but it sounds good when he says it. He likes using big words too even though he’s not a professor. I hope I won’t ever talk like that. Well, I gotta go. My friends are waiting for me to play soccer.


1. Does Birth Order Really Matter? Sue Flanagan,WVU Extension Agent, Berkeley County, Patty Morrison, WVU Extension Agent, Wirt County, Extension Service, West Virginia University, 2007. www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/WLG_237%20Birth%20Order%20…

2. Birth Order Characteristics: Does birth order determine personality? Karen Frazier kids.lovetoknow.com??›??›

3. The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, Dr. Kevin Leman, Revell, 1998, pp. 150-152; 165.

4. Image: clipart panda labeled for reuse 10 28 2014

Parenting Advice From a First Born Child

As the first born child, I have some advice on how to parent me. You see, some of the things you do make my life more challenging, while others help me become a better person. Let me explain.

Need to Achieve. You pay close attention to everything that happens. I know you’re proud of everything I do and frightened by every potential injury at the same time. My need for high achievement tends to make me tense, more serious, more reserved, and less playful. You see me as a reflection of yourselves, so you push me to excel. I need you to put less pressure on me to succeed. I already do that to myself.

Normal or Not? I know you’re anxious about every new milestone. You’re worried I won’t be “normal.” But even if something takes me longer, I’m fine. When you talk with me and help me come up with ideas, I feel better about myself. Don’t focus on my growing up and miss what I’m doing today. Let me be a kid, and encourage me to play.

Love Who I Am. I want to know that you love me and approve of me just because I’m your child, not because I’m so responsible and a leader. I like it when you admit your mistakes. It helps me feel less pressure to be perfect. I know you’re busy but I like it best when both of you spend time with just me.

My Cover-Up. I wish you wouldn’t criticize my accomplishments. What’s wrong with 95%? I appear confident, but secretly, I’m extremely sensitive to correction and criticism. Don’t improve on what I do. I know sometimes you re-do my projects after I go to bed because they aren’t perfect. Try not to jump in to correct every word I say. Instead, reinforce that no one’s perfect.

Too Much. Sometimes I take on responsibility for other people’s problems since I have a hard time saying no. I don’t want to disappoint people, so I over commit myself. It’s hard for me to ask for help and I have trouble trusting others. If you offer help, sometimes I might accept it. Teach me how to accept life’s activities.

More Privileges. As the oldest, I should get some special privileges. I’d like to get a bigger allowance and stay out later. I have more chores than any of the other kids. How about giving them some of my chores? I did chores when I was their age, remember? I don’t mind being the babysitter once in awhile, but I like it when you remember in advance to get a babysitter.

Be Patient. How come I get in trouble more often than my siblings? It seems like you’re more impatient with me and expect more from me, like when you say, “You should know better.”

I know you feel pressure to be the best parent for me. But try to relax. I need someone to show me how to take it easy. I’m still just a kid. I’m learning too. Maybe we can learn together.


1. The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, Dr. Kevin Leman, Revell, 1998, pp. 287-288.

2. Birth Order & You: Discover how your sex and position in the family affects your personality, career, relationships and parenting. Dr. Ronald W. Richardson, Lois A. Richardson, Self-Counsel Press, 2nd edition, 2000; 2004. Canada, pp. 48-49, 50-51, 55-56.

I’m a First Born Child: The Achiever

What makes me tick? Mom and Dad. All that attention, the ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’. I’m always in the430677990_2 I want to be the boss robotpolisher [www.StockPholio.com] spotlight. They photograph and video every little thing I do; then post it on face book.

I’m Overly…Because I’ve had so much attention from my parents, and I want to please them, I’m overly responsible, reliable, and well-behaved. The perfect child!

But all this stuff adds up to–PRESSURE. I want others to like me–my parents, teachers, my classmates. So I work really hard at everything I do like chores, school, & activities.

At School. I’m one of the best kids in my class. I’m a huge reader. I’m good at solving problems. I’m kind of picky though. I always try and do things right. If I can’t, I get angry and frustrated. Sometimes I just won’t do something because I’m afraid it won’t be perfect.

My Future. Because I’m good at details, I could be an editor, bookkeeper or accountant. But I like being in charge, you know, the boss. Maybe I’ll be a lawyer, a doctor, or own a company some day.

I’ve heard other people say I’m aggressive, but I call it being assertive. That’s a big word but like I told you, I’m really smart. If you want something done, ask me. I’ve got everything under control. I have to be on time, even early; everything’s scheduled. But I’m willing to make sacrifices to be successful.

Skills Galore. My dad says I’m a mover and a shaker, strong-willed, a high achiever, and a hard driver. I like it when he says that.

I’m actually a good leader in my youth group and school clubs I belong to. But sometimes that doesn’t work very well with my friends. I’m kind of a mini-parent, I like bossing my friends and siblings around. They don’t like it very much.

Dethroned. When baby number two arrived, I was no longer the king. All the attention, time and resources I had all to myself I had to share. It took me awhile to get used to all that sharing.

Two Types. The other day I heard there are actually two types of first born children. Not all first borns are like me. I’m the best type, of course. The other kind is also a leader, but in a quiet, behind the scenes way. They’re not showy or bossy like me. They make sure they pleassssse everyone.

My mom says they are more compliant than I am; they’re like nurturers and caregivers. I don’t know that much about that either, but maybe you do. I need to go finish my homework. I must keep the best grade in the class.

Compiled Story Sources:

1. Does Birth Order Really Matter? Sue Flanagan,WVU Extension Agent, Berkeley County, Patty Morrison, WVU Extension Agent, Wirt County, Extension Service, West Virginia University, 2007. www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/WLG_237%20Birth%20Order%20… 

2. The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, Dr. Kevin Leman, Revell, 1998, pp. 79; 80; 85; 87; 90.

3. Birth Order Characteristics: Does birth order determine personality? Karen Frazier kids.lovetoknow.com › … › 

4. Image Source: I want to be the boss [StockPholio.com]

Why are my kids so different from one another?

If you’re the parent of two or more children, perhaps you’ve wondered how children in the same family can be so dramatically different.

After all, they come from the same gene pool yet they have different personalities and interests. They’re brought up in the same environment, under a similar set of rules and family values. 1

How can siblings be so different?

Our daughters have same parents, the same last name (until they married), and are both girls. That’s pretty much the extent of their similarities.

While they may be born into the same family they are not born into the same position. They are born with a different Birth Order. Birth order refers to the chronological positions in the family.2  My husband, our first daughter and I are all the oldest or first born children in our families. Each birth order generally tends to view life differently.

Origins of Birth Order

The idea that being the oldest, middle or youngest child comes with some typical personality traits has been around since the 1920s.3  Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler began stressing the importance of birth order on personality and character.

Birth Order Theory

Adler’s theory and the views of several birth order experts since, boils down to this: Children in any given family each strive for their parents’ love, attention and resources. The bigger the family, the harder it is to do this. And depending on where a child falls in the family, he or she responds differently. 3

In Their Own Words

A few weeks ago I spoke on Birth Order & Parenting. I’ll be blogging about how oldest, middle, and last born children view life and suggestions they have for parenting them in the next few blog posts. Stay tuned for a first born child’s view of life.


1. The Achiever, the Peacemaker and the Life of the Party: How Birth Order Affects Personality, Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D. Ed.D., Human Behavior and Education Expert, Speaker, & Author. Posted: 12/23/2013, Updated: 02/22/2014 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/birth-order/

2. Does Birth Order Really Matter? Sue Flanagan, WVU Extension Agent, Berkeley County, Patty Morrison, WVU Extension Agent, Wirt County, Extension Service, West Virginia University, 2007. www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/fypubs/WLG 

3. Birth Order: What It Means for Your Kids … and You, Janet Strassman Perlmutter, www.parenthood.com/article/birth_order_hat_it_means_for_your_kids_and_you.html.

4. image Source: Basic Principles [alfredadler.wikispaces.com]



“Alone in a Crowd” Hope Street: My Journey

Note: Event Occurred in Fall 2007

I sit alone staring at the center piece. Christmas ornaments in fancy glass containers. Each center piece at over twenty tables is slightly different. Sitting alone is the last thing I expected.

Earlier today my daughters and I discussed tonight’s big event. “Mom, you know it’s going to be crowded. Dad’s expecting over 200 people. It will be pretty hard to push you around in the wheel chair.”

My other daughter adds, “We know you really want to see your friends. How about if we find a table where they can see you? Then they can come to you.”

At the time it made sense. But the plan isn’t working. I lift my eyes slightly to glance around the room again. Why do I keep doing this? I just feel worse. I see more people I know. Some I’ve known for over twenty years. Maybe they’re busy and will talk to me later.

My daughter serves me a delicious smelling turkey dinner and joins me.

“Mmmm, I love cranberry sauce. I hope there’s pumpkin pie for dessert,” I say.

“I’ll get you some when you’re ready. So, who did you get to talk to?”

Looking down at my plate, I mumble. “No one. No one’s come by…yet. Maybe later.”

“Oh mom. I know you were really looking forward to seeing your friends. Especially since you don’t get to Modesto often.”

Tears brim my eyes. One rolls down my cheek but not without my daughter’s notice. She leans towards me and gives me a hug. “I’ll stay and talk to you.”

“I’ll be okay. You have responsibilities. Just stop by later and bring me some pie …with whipping cream, of course.”

I flip through the program pretending to look interested. But I’m sad. One person did say hi when I arrived but quickly moved on. Where are my friends? Maybe they don’t know I’m here. But if I can see them, they can probably see me too.

Towards the end of the evening, one of my best friends sits next to me. “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you yet. I’ve been helping with the raffle tickets. So, how are you?”

Someone finally talks to me. I’m overwhelmed with emotions.

At home my husband comments, “I’m glad you got to come tonight. People were so happy to see you.”

Surprised I ask, “Really? How do you know that?”

“They told me. They asked how you’re doing.”

“No one talked to me. Well, two people did. Do you think it’s because I’m in a wheelchair?”

My husband quietly contemplates my question. “Oh Sweetie,” he replies while handing me a tissue. “Sometimes people just don’t know what to say.”

“But that’s all they really have to say. ‘I’m so sorry; I don’t know what to say.'”

“I know, I know.” He comforts me, handing me several more tissues. “I know you’re really hurt. I’m sure sorry, Sweetie.”

Note: I was in a wheelchair periodical from October 2012 through January 2013. I collapsed often. My legs would just give out. Rick was regularly carrying me. The wheelchair made me safer when we were out & about.


Image Source: wheelchair-2873064_1280 [Pixabay.com]


“First Day of Appointments” Hope Street: My Journey

The previous blog ends, “Today God answers in a clear, calm, reassuring voice. ‘I’m here. I’m sending you to Stanford.’

Journal September 16, 2012. Lord, give me peace. I’m afraid I’ll have another bad experience. I’m afraid it will be bad news, although I believe You’ve been preparing me for it. It won’t make it much easier though.

First Stanford Hospital Appointment

Journal September 18, 2014. Lord, thanks for giving me peace today. I felt “off” today & took my medication in a.m., then during the trip. Every time there’s a bump in the road, I startle. And with California roads these days, it’s a lo-o-ong trip.

Rick & I like the doctors. The epilepsy neurologist is ordering an MRI. He says the machines need a level 3 to show epilepsy. Five years ago when I had an MRI, it was probably a 1.5 level. Then they’ll admit me to the hospital for 3-5 days, a week, maybe even 10 days, to record my brain activity. Finally!!!

It never made sense to me why no one’s ever done this. I ask my former doctor so many times, “Can’t you just hook me up to some kind of machine & see what happens to my brain when I have a fading spell?” He looks at me as if I am from outer space with the most outlandish idea he’s ever heard. But I keep asking.

Rick drove me to out-of-town medical appointments every three months for four years. Without much improvement from late 2007 to 2011, my appointments were discontinued. Now I’m back at Stanford.

Second Stanford Hospital Appointment

My next appointment today is with the sleep doctor. It is pretty straight forward: do another sleep study. It’s scheduled for October 30th unless there’s a cancellation.

Overall, my husband & I are pleased. Like Rick says, “It is hard to go over such a long medical history. How do you describe five years of symptoms that regularly change?” The doctors think I may have epilepsy, but probably non-epileptic seizures. I guess we may actually find out what I have.


Image Source: Stanford Hospital [pngegg.com]

Ignore Shocking Statements: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure

Ignore Me StockPholio.comClosely related to the parenting tip to help reduce negative peer pressure for school age children to suspend judgment, is to ignore shock value statements.

Ignore Shock Value Statements

Sometimes it feels like kids just want to push your buttons, but what they’re actually doing is figuring out what they believe. For example, a child who is raised in a church might say, “I don’t want to go to church anymore. I don’t think there’s really a God.” Your child is looking for your response. You are ignoring the shock value.


Most parents tend to over react to shock value statements. “How can you say that after all we’ve taught you?” Instead, ask a question. Get their response, don’t give yours. A better response is, “Tell me what you’re thinking about.” Help the child reach his or her own conclusions. Eventually, children need to take on their own personal beliefs and values. Over reacting will only push them away.

Image Source: Ignore Me 4791133 [StockPholio.com]

Warning Signs: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure

La JollaWarning Signs

The last tip for parents helping reducing negative peer pressure in school age children is looking for signs that peer pressure is becoming a problem. If you notice attitude changes; withdrawal; sudden materialism; and/or intense interest in “taboo” behaviors or possessions, you may want to consider professional help.1

Often these indicators are beyond parents’ skills and expertise. Using some or all of these parenting tips will help your school age child deal with negative peer pressure.


  1. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com
  2. Image: warning dangerous rip currents. La Jolla, CA

“Inspiration Dead End” Hope Street: My Journey

Dancing Dog and I are on another summer bike ride around the neighborhood. As I take in the sights, I notice the name of a street: Inspiration Drive. That would be a nice street to live on. I love feeling inspired. Would I feel inspiration every time I see the street sign?

Then I notice another part of the street sign: Inspiration Court: Dead End. Dead end? I don’t want to live on a street where inspiration ends. Dead ends are too familiar.

What is inspiration? The Encarta Dictionary lists a number of definitions:

1. Stimulation to do creative work2. Somebody or something that inspires3. Creativeness4. Good idea: a sudden brilliant idea5. Divine influenceGod has blessed me with creativity. Not creativity in an artistic way, but with ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. When creative ideas flow, I rapidly jot them down on whatever paper I can find. Capturing these divine influenced ideas typically leads to more ideas. Eventually some of these ideas manifest themselves in an article, a speaking topic, a book, a new teaching technique, a part of a lesson plan, or some other endeavor.

But what happens when Inspiration is a Dead End? For several years, I rarely had any ideas. No sudden brilliant ideas. No creative thoughts. No stimulation to do creative work. No divine influence. My brain was functionally “dead.” My primary thoughts were how to “not waste my brain energy” so I could function at the most basic level. One way I conserved brain energy was not talking, especially to people I didn’t know.

Over time, my brain is getting better. I experience divine influence and generate more ideas and creative thoughts. The past two months I notice I’m talking to people when I’m out and about. The man at the Walgreens photo counter has a child starting kindergarten like my grandson. I encourage the young man in the WalMart line who’s buying a car seat for his 2 1/2 year old. The mom buying American Dolls for her three young daughters shares why she’s buying them dolls.

Why do I bother talking to others? I believe God can use even a brief conversation to encourage someone, let someone know they’re not alone, share an idea, or be inspired by their story. I may never know the impact of my assorted short conversations with others along life’s path, but I do know they may be part of God’s story in their lives.

Who can you encourage? Listen to? Share a word of kindness? Give a complement? We have the opportunity to make a small difference in someone’s life. And what’s more inspirational than that?


Image Source: inspiration-4777469_1280 [Pixabay.com]


Designer Jeans, Coupons and Budgets for Teens

“Why do we always have to use a coupon to buy my clothes?” laments my eleven-year-old daughter. “I want them today.”

“You know we have a clothing budget. We can get more for our money if we wait until the item is on sale and we have a coupon,” I try explaining once again.

“Everyone else’s mom just buys their designer jeans even if they’re not on sale,” she retorts trying for the mother guilt button.

Clothing Budget

But this conversation changed significantly one year later when our seventh grader was given her very own clothing budget. “Mom, do you have any coupons? I need some jeans,” I proudly heard. She was allotted a monthly amount but could use up to three months of budget money at a time if necessary. Since our daughters were in year-round school, budget money for three months seemed reasonable.

Consider Needs

No, we didn’t just give our adolescents money and let them have a free for all. We talked about special events coming up, seasonal items like coats and swimsuits, what still fits from last season, do they need new undergarments, what about shoes, ways they can update their wardrobe inexpensively, and yes, how buying items on sale and using coupons saves money. Because they knew the cost of every item purchased, they took great care of their clothes when they began doing their own laundry at age thirteen (see previous blog, Laundry or Writing?).

Special Events

As they entered high school and needed dresses for special events such as the winter formal and the prom, we paid for half the dress cost up to a certain amount. Young men will need additional budget money for winter formal sports coats and renting tuxedoes for the prom. When they wanted additional clothing or designer clothing items that cost more, they used gift money or worked for extra money. Other families we know paid up to a certain amount for clothing items, such as a pair of jean or athletic shoes, and the young person paid the difference.

Your Family Budget

I’m purposely not sharing how much money we gave them for two reasons. They are young adults and inflation has occurred since they were teenagers. Secondly, each family has an income; some may have a larger budget for clothing, while others families will have smaller budgets. You may think you can’t afford to give your adolescents a clothing budget, but if you honestly track how much you spend on their clothes, shoes, undergarments, etc. it adds up quickly. The point isn’t so much about how much you allot for their budget, but teaching them the principles of money management.


When you transition the budget responsibility to your young adults, please resist the temptation to rescue them when they spend all their clothing money and need something. They will not learn to plan ahead and use their money wisely if you rescue them. Keep in mind that they will eventually learn to live with the consequences if you allow them opportunities to learn. And in no time, they’ll start asking, “Do you have any coupons?” and you will know you’ve done your job.

Image Source: sale-606687_1280 [Pixabay.com]