Friday, November 5, 2010
The Middle Child
I was a middle child. I turned out okay. Well, at least I think I did. In fact, both my husband and I are middle children from families of three children. I, however, was the only girl so I did have that specialness going for me, I guess. A few years back we got a used book online that cost us only a couple of bucks called, The New Birth Order Book, by Dr. Kevin Leman. We actually haven't read much of the book itself but have perused through a few chapters. Some of it is too psychoanalytic for my taste but...some of it is interesting too.
For example: according to Dr. Leman, me being married to another middle child, well can turn into quite a "muddle". "As we have seen, two married middle children will probably not communicate well. They tend to feel it isn't worth the hassle to confront each other. They may also discount the value of their own opinions. These attitudes are typical of middle children." The New Birth Order Book, pg. 223. When Steve and I read that for the first time, we just burst into laughter. Don't worry...we didn't panic or anything. In fact, we think that we communicate just fine and truly are best friends. And just for the record, between the two of us, my husband is much more adept at not hassling me too much with his opinions. He's very laid back (except on big issues of importance). I, on the other hand, when it comes to Steve, have no problem letting him know what I think. Over time I've learned to do it much more respectfully but, I still get it out there.
I do think though that middle children can have it hard sometimes. And that's not just because I'm one myself. I've seen this in my own home with my own children. It's also something I've watched for since I know a little bit what it's like to be a middle child. Now it doesn't always play out like this in every family but for us, so far, our hardest child has been our second. When I say "hardest" I mean the hardest one to reach. Part of that is probably his personality. He's strong. He's a fighter and he's stubborn. When these qualities are refined and pointed in the right direction, they can be SO great in a grown man. Yet again though, we've got to get him there. On the other hand, he's very sensitive and he shows his sensitivity through anger. Trying to teach him to express himself with self-control has been a long and arduous task although he's getting so much better over time. Another thing that has been important with him is gaining his trust and believe me, even as his parents, it has been hard to do.
Both Steve and I have spent nearly the last four years reaching...reaching...tying strings with him and reaching. He's gravitated much more naturally to me so Steve has had to reach even harder. A lot of the "theories" we had about the one-size-fits-all parenting that worked beautifully with our firstborn, flew out the window so fast when he came along. He required different methods and much more patience.
Yet, I think that because Steve and I are both middle children, it has caused us to have much more resolve and compassion in dealing with him. Maybe that's why God gave him to us second. We've been resolved to not just let him fade into the background or just let him "be who he was going to be." For some reason, we've been determined to fight for him. And so fight we have....day after day after day. It hasn't always been pretty. And I'm sure we could've done some things much better. But we've fought and I know our fight is far from over. Nevertheless, the changes we've seen in him over the last two years are truly miraculous and we're thankful to God for His mercy and perseverance. We're also thankful for a time of respite.
I don't know where Caleb will end up in life. We pray that God will capture his heart and save him. This is our prayer. However, this I do know, God has used our precious little middle son to show us the depth of His love for us. For God didn't just leave us in our sin and rebellion but He LOVED us and gave HIMSELF up for us. He didn't stop fighting for us. And so we won't stop fighting for Caleb. Because we love him. And we want what's best for him. We may have to reach harder for him than the rest, but he's ours and so we'll keep reaching.
The other day Steve and I were talking about the kids and where each one was at. When we got to Caleb, we just smiled and both of us said, "I really like Caleb. I don't just love him. I like him."
It's all been worth it. He's been worth fighting for.