Middle child syndrome – is it real?

My younger daughter has started referring to herself as “the middle child” on a regular basis. She brings it up all the time and peppers her conversations with, “…since I am the middle child,” or “you should feel sorry for me because I am the middle child,” etc. I am amazed as we have never referred to her as the “middle child” (she is flanked by her older sister and younger brother) – she is simply one of three kids. When my husband and I were in the midst of planning our family (haha – if you can call it that) – he wanted two, I wanted four, three was our compromise – I was insistent on the fact that there would be no “middle child” (which I associated with the child who would be overlooked) in our family. Each child would get the special attention they deserved. Little did I know at that time that there is some validity to birth order’s effect on personality.

We have taken a lot of steps along the way to stave off middle child-itis. We moved to a new house when my oldest daughter was one and my younger daughter was on the way. At that time, I was hoping for more than two kids and we intentionally gave in utero baby the biggest, nicest bedroom in house. My younger daughter has the opposite taste in clothes from her older sister (princess vs. tomboy) so hand-me-downs are kept to a minimum ( I don’t force her to wear pink). Activities are selected based on our kids’ interests – my older daughter took ballet, while my younger daughter preferred tumbling. And still, she is playing the middle child card.

Birth order is actually pretty fascinating and I checked out for more info. It’s actually not such a bad thing to be a middle child – my daughter is in the company of Donald Trump, Ted Kennedy, Tim Allen, and Julia Roberts, among others. (Of course I always think of Jan Brady – “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”). Middle children, including my daughter tend to be “peacemakers, mediators, able to keep secrets, not spoiled, take risks, are realistic, get along well with others, read people well, independent, loyal to supporters, competitive, and imaginative.” Even though she’s only eight, that’s a pretty accurate description of her character so far.  And pretty great.

The bottom line? All children need one-on-one time with their parents, they probably don’t get enough, and parents will continue to feel guilty. As for my middle child, she should wave her middle child flag proudly. The next time she brings up her middle child status, I will tell her that she is lucky for that role. Any middle children or parents of middle children out there? Please lend your advice.

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