Ask any child growing up in a family of multiple children how their experience was during childhood and different stories will likely be told. The eldest might feel like the child was defined by how much they influenced their younger siblings. The youngest might describe their childhood by saying their parents gave them unlimited attention, whether they wanted it or not. The middle child, however, might have a story that is different from them all.
The middle child might describe their upbringing as one that was filled with a struggle for solo attention from their parents and a lack of feeling like their space or identity in the family was clear. Unlike their siblings, the middle child is stuck between two other people that suck up their parent’s time, attention, and energy while they are kind of left to figure it out on their own.
There is even a name for the phenomenon called the middle child syndrome. It describes the feeling of being left out, unheard, and unaccounted for. It says that middle children are slightly, and unintentionally, neglected in the family and constantly search for that sense of belonging.
While much of this is true and makes total sense, some of the struggles of being a middle child can actually be the catalyst that creates a well adjusted, interesting, and high achieving adults.
15 The Team Player
Some people work better in a more independent setting, where they are in total control. Others enjoy working in groups where they can pool their efforts to reach an overall goal.
Middle children are natural born collaborators. According to Cafe Mom, they love working with others whether it’s in sports or in the office; they appreciate being a part of a team.
Some kids loathe working on group projects and would much rather be in control of the outcome of their grade by working independently.
They also enjoy leaning on a group and pooling their strengths in order to reach an overall, mutual goal. It makes sense as middle children are surrounded by their brothers and sisters to lean on throughout life rather than having to lead or follow which makes for adults that enjoy collaborative work in the future.
14 Always Down For Risky Behavior
When you think of risky behavior, bad things may come to mind like underage drinking and excessive partying without calculating the consequences. According to Mic, the willingness to take risks isn't all that bad.
Being willing to take risks means putting fear to the side and charging forward towards goals that are risky or unlikely to be achievable. Since middle children are not the center of their parent’s focus as their older and younger siblings are, they have more room to move throughout life in a way that they deem suitable.
Unlike their brothers or sisters, middle children don’t have the excessive pressure from their parent’s to be a particular way. This means that if they want to try their hands at bungee jumping, they won’t stop and consider their parent’s opinions. Being able to take these risks means that middle children are able to navigate through life, taking a few risks, learning from their own mistakes and how to bounce back.
13 Middle Children Make The Best Spouses
Birth order can explain some obvious behaviors and character traits like independence, being driven, and caring. Turns out that birth order can also determine the kind of partner a person may turn out to be. Business Insider has reported that middle children are known to be some of the best spouses and have the most fulfilling and long-lasting marriages of their siblings.
As a middle child, a person grows up having to negotiate and compromise with their older and younger sibling. There is a lot of giving that is required as the middle child. They are commonly considered the peacemaker of the bunch. These are traits that are ideal for a partnership, including platonic and romantic. Like the rest of their lives, middle children grow up and become partners that lean on making a situation work.
This means, in a relationship, they are willing to fix a problem and negotiate a solution as opposed to being more stubborn and uncompromising.
The downside, however, is that middle children are also used to keeping their feelings and true emotions built up and shut into themselves. This means the communication can suffer in their relationship in order to make a rough marriage smoother. But, with the right work on communication, it won’t be an issue.
12 Low Self Esteem Is Possible
One of the downsides of being a middle child is that they can easily feel neglected. They aren’t the first child, which tends to get the most attention and praise as they lead the pack. They aren’t the baby, which tends to be the child that is coddled and babied as they are youngest. The middle child can easily get lost in the mix when it comes to attention and affection.
While it’s likely not intentional, it definitely can happen. With such a struggle over attention, the middle child can feel left out and neglected. As they grow up, they can consistently seek out a connection that they missed growing up. While they are independent, creative, and laid back; some middle children can suffer from low self-esteem stemming from their upbringing and feeling like they aren’t seen.
The low self-esteem may show itself in different ways. According to HealthGuidance.org, our little one may constantly ask for help when they really don’t need it during childhood just to get attention. They may also be down on themselves on small mistakes that aren’t really a big deal. There are definitely ways to boost your middle child’s self-esteem and show them that they are a valuable member of the family team.
11 Creativity Is A Perk
One of the best parts of being a middle child is their ability to be creative and use it to be successful adults. Creativity and being the middle child may seem like two things that don’t have much correlation. However, it turns out that there is a strong connection between being the middle kid and being a creative thinker.
Creativity doesn’t exactly mean that your middle kid will be painting like Picasso before their 5th birthday or writing the next greatest novel while they’re in high school. While that is a possibility, there are other ways your baby can grow up to be creative.
Instead of being stumped on a problem, your little one will learn how to creatively think outside of the box. They will set their own rules and dance to the beat of their own drum.
But why? PopSugar reported that according to psychologist Catherine Salmon and journalist Katrin Schumann, authors of the book Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable Abilities, when parents put their focus on the other children outside of the middle, they are also giving them the opportunity to explore freely without the same level of pressure as the other children. This gives them the room to navigate through life, using their creativity, to solve problems and find their own path in life.
10 Rebellion Is A Thing
Everything isn’t all peachy and rosy for the middle child throughout those formidable years where they are trying to figure out who they are still. The eldest of the bunch will have their parents' full attention and guidance as they put together the pieces of life. They will likely be the kid that graduates high school with a clear plan in place and have no problem following that path with the help of the parents.
The middle child, on the other hand, will view their older sibling less as a trailblazer and more as the person that wants to be less like. It all can seem quite negative, however, it totally makes sense. The middle child struggles with their self-identity and determining who they are in the family. Looking at the oldest sibling, the one that kind of sets the tone for all the children behind them, the middle may want to rebel against who they are to show their own individuality.
So, if the eldest child is a party animal that often gets in trouble for breaking curfew, the middle child will probably try to follow the rules more. They desire their individuality and to be seen by their parents. It is actually a great way for middle children to start to figure out who they want to be as they grow up. As parents, you can encourage your middle baby to rebel if they want to against the norms that the eldest child has set while also finding their own voice in the mix.
9 The Most Well-Adjusted Of The Bunch
Being a well-adjusted kid that turns into a well-adjusted adult is any parent’s dream. Raising a child that is able to go out into the world and be successful in life, career, adulthood, and romance is like getting a gold star in parenting.
Turns out that middle children have an easier time transitioning into adulthood than their older and younger siblings.
According to Psychology Today, middle children are more independent, don’t feel the weight of conformity as much, and have a stronger sense of empathy. These qualities help propel middle children into the stratosphere of success when it comes to career, teamwork, and being partners.
This may be surprising for some as middle children are thought to be a bit more neglected when it comes to getting attention from their parents but this doesn’t stop them from easing to adulthood with fewer bumps in the road.
8 Mrs. Independant
There is a common parenting idea that the second child is much easier than the first. The logic behind that is that, by the second child, parents have learned the ropes a bit and are able to breeze through the introductory stages of parenting. By the time the 3rd baby comes along, parents can still breeze through the beginning stages of parenting easily but they may dote on the latest addition a bit more as the other children are old enough to be more self-sufficient.
When it comes to birth order, the middle child is usually given less attention. While that sounds negative and slightly neglectful, it is understandable. The first child has no one else to compete with and the baby is the youngest and naturally draws all of the attention. The middle child can easily get lost in the mix of everything. The lack of constant, uninterrupted attention leads a child born between 2 other siblings to figure things out on their own. According to Parents.com, they have more room to gain a sense of independence that their older and younger sibling do not.
Parents are less likely to hover over them or figuratively hold their hand constantly. While mom may help her eldest and youngest child get dressed until they’re 5, the middle child will likely be left to figure it out by the time they are 2. Middle children tend to take this sense of independence and ride it into adulthood and become independent grown-ups.
7 They Love Socializing
From work, friend circles, school, and every part of their lives, middle children are likely to be more social and outgoing than their siblings. To be honest, it could be easy to assume that, since middle children are a bit more disadvantaged during their youth, they will have a more difficult time making friends and being social. The supposed disadvantages of childhood actually turn out to be the things that help middles become well rounded, social butterflies as adults. For starters, middle children thrive in group settings.
They love being able to work with others on projects, work assignments, and other collaborative ways. Their ability to be social comes from various places.
Middles are used to learning how to socialize with their older and younger siblings. They have never been an only child or a coddled child as they are between the eldest and youngest. By having less attention through their childhood, middles learn how to be more creative, have more empathy, and are more laid back.
This makes them naturals when it comes to making friends outside of their families. Middle children are able to relate to others which is the key when it comes to getting to know new people. Unlike their siblings, middles are independent and have no problem walking into a room and chatting up strangers.
6 A Pro At Negotiating Deals
When you look at a set of three siblings, the oldest sibling has the privilege of being the only child for a while and getting to set the path for every child afterward. The youngest sibling is the last child born and receives most of the parent's attention as the other 2 are old enough to be self-sufficient for the most part like feeding themselves, getting dressed, and playing together. The middle child, the one born between the two, is often left to figure things out on their own.
They don’t receive as much attention or coddling as the other siblings. While it can seem like a negative, according to MonicaSwanson.com, this makes for a flexible child that turns into an adult with almost business-like negotiating skills. Throughout the childhood of a middle, they have to negotiate and bargain for just about everything from attention to personal time.
As middles grow into adults, these negotiating skills become a great asset to them. Whether its at their workplace or in their social circles, middles are able to create deals like a professional broker. During childhood, they have to wheel and deal with their siblings and their parents. Some of the best business people in history are actually middle children.
5 A Serious Case Of FOMO
In the era of social media and tracking every person’s possible movement, it’s easy for anyone to have FOMO or a fear of missing out. There’s nothing more sinking than seeing a group photo of your friends at an event you had no idea about. However, for middles, that feeling of missing out can be one that permeates throughout their life. As the eldest child acts as the trailblazer in just about every category, the youngest of the bunch has their parent’s undivided guidance to depend on.
The middle child can feel like they are being left out and that they are missing out on a piece of childhood that their siblings get to have.
As a middle child of 5, I totally and completely get the feeling and how it translates into adulthood. My older siblings took my parents through the wild ride of growing up first and by the time the spotlight was on me, I didn’t get nearly as much attention or acknowledgment. I felt like I was left out of the experience. As an adult, that feeling of being left out follows me around. If friends or family make plans without me, I’m transported to a childhood of feeling unseen and unheard and not included.
4 The Identity Crisis
The eldest child has the pleasure of having space and time to find who they are. Unlike the children to come after them, they are the example that the other siblings will forever be compared to; good or bad. The eldest child is also considered the favorite, even if us as parents promise we don’t have favorites. The middle child definitely feels that. The place of the eldest kid seems set in stone.
The youngest child is the baby, the one that completes the family. As parents, we tend to go a little easier on the youngest one. The middle child can feel like they don’t know where they fit in the family or what they role is and how to fulfill it. According to HealthGuidance.org, they feel unimportant and unheard which can leave them trying to figure out who they are. Parents instill in the eldest child that they are the role models and leaders of the pack while the youngest is expected to be more experimental and risky. As the middle, their identity is kind of up in the air.
Who are they expected to be out of the bunch? While an identity crisis may happen with your middle little early on, you as a parent can help guide them towards their interests and help them define who they are as a person. A little extra attention and support will help them feel like they are being seen and that who they are as an individual and within their family is important.
3 They're Self Starters
Looking through history, there are several notable self-starting, successful people that are actually middle children. For example, Jennifer Lopez is the middle child in her family and her career has been one that was not easy and required a healthy dose of a self-starter attitude, as reported by CBS News.
Parents tend to put pressure on their eldest children to be successful and achieve a certain amount of goals during a specific time frame. They want to see their oldest children fulfill their idea of success. When it comes to the middle child, they are less focused on imposing their idea of success on them and, since they are preoccupied with the baby of the family, middles tend to have more freedom and independence. The parental control and helicopter parenting is not as prevalent.
This leads to little growing into adults that don’t need constant supervision or guidance to get the job done. In the workplace, this characteristic will shine the brightest. While chasing their career, whatever it may be, middle children won’t need to ask for permission or pause for praise in order to reach their goals. They have the ability to push themselves, motivate themselves, and be the ultimate self-starters. If there is something they want, the middle child doesn’t see any obstacle as impossible.
2 Following Doesn't Have To Be A Con
How can the middle child be both fiercely independent and prone to be followers? Well, it’s not as contradictory as it seems. It is true that middle babies grow up to be independent kids, teens, and adults as they spend their childhood finding their way on their own with less parental control. However, they also lean towards being followers as well. The reason is that middle children long after finding their place and love being a part of a group. It is important to note that, middle children aren’t followers in the way that is negative.
They can happily think on their own without the influence of others, however, they’d much rather avoid stirring the pot.
They aren’t interested in being leaders of the group and want to pool their efforts with others to reach a mutual goal. They have no problem following a competent leader and enjoy being a part of the group. In this sense, middles are followers in the way that they easily work well with others as they tend to be laid back, realistic, and highly approachable. With all of these wonderful traits, it is easy for middles to fall into the role as followers but in a much more positive way of course.
1 The 'I Didn't Hear You' Problem
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It is not surprising that one of the traits that are common with middle children is that they feel unheard. It affects every part of their personality as they grow up and helps mold them to who they will be, both good and bad. When the last baby is born, the middle child can feel like they have been both replaced and pushed out of the family dynamic. Even when parents put in a good effort to make them feel included, it can feel like they aren’t old enough to compete with their eldest sibling and not young enough to warrant constant attention from their parents.
Each child is special and unique in their own way, however, the middle child can easily feel left out and like their concerns are not heard and their achievements are not seen, according to Parents.com. As kids that are born into the middle child spot grow up, they may carry that complex with them. As a middle child of 5, I definitely have felt like I can get lost in the mix.
While I do feel like my parents have tried to make me feel included throughout my childhood, I couldn’t help but feel like my older siblings hit all of the achievements before I could get to them and my younger siblings were treated to undivided attention from my parents when their time came up. While there isn’t much that can be done about that, parents with more than 2 children can simply try to show their middle child that they are heard and what they do is important.