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Middle Matters

C.B. Gavant

Whether you’re the second child or the seventh, most people fall somewhere in between the bechor and the baby. How does this affect personality? Does it matter how big your family is? Middle-borns share their side of the birth-order story.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

“By the time my older sister, Sarah,* was sixteen, she could run my father’s store. If my mother was sick, she’d take her place in the office,” says Hindy* about her high-achieving firstborn sister. “I couldn’t even do that now!”

Not that Hindy is incompetent. This mother of a large brood is perfectly capable of taking charge, and often does — such as the time her sister-in-law unexpectedly flew out of town on Erev Shabbos, leaving all six of her children in Hindy’s care.

Yet when a big job needs to get done, Hindy still turns to her older sister. “People in my community think of me as this super-organized, super-balabusta, but I don’t hold a candle to my sister!” she exclaims. “To this day, Sarah is the one who hosts the entire family for Pesach, organizes all the family simchahs, and more.”

The two sisters were born only a year apart, so what makes Sarah and Hindy so distinctly different? For Hindy, it’s a matter of birth order. Despite the minor age gap, she still feels like a true middle child.

In frum society, where most families are made up of more than just the bechor and the baby, there are many middle kids around. What exactly personifies them? How does having both older and younger siblings affect you? Does it make a difference if you’re the second in a family of ten, or the fourth of five kids?


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