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Middle child syndrome


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It is considered that the ranking of birth order among siblings determines our behaviours and personalities. It has long been thought that middle children suffer the worst of the birth order placing, with studies showing that middle children have a more difficult time in growing up than their siblings. The “middle” birth place is considered disadvantageous as they are quite often marginalised by their parents during their formative years, but is this true?

First, second and third…

The first born is often viewed as being special and also mostly being reared by first time parents, who can dedicate their attention to them, with parents experiencing all the important milestones for the first time too. The last one born tends to have lavish attention poured on them, even spoilt, more often because the parents have decided that it will be their last child, and so often they are still viewed as “the baby” even when in adulthood. Middle children are said to not have the same attention as first and last born children and have no “special” place, they often try to please to gain attention and affection.

Out of place

With this it was originally thought middle children were more likely grow up resentful, withdrawn and suffer a lack of confidence and self-esteem and that they are also more likely to be outsiders and not achieve a level of success of first and last born children. On forums and interviews many middle children say they feel a sense of being left out, felt invisible, abandonment and rejection from their parents. For these reasons middle children are often more detached from their parents and families than other siblings when they are adults.

Is there any good news?

Yes, there certainly is good news – contrary to the original thinking, the hardship middle children seem to endure whilst growing up actually proves beneficial for them. They are actually more likely to succeed and have flourishing careers. They have learnt to be independent and can have a lot of empathy and be very creative. Middle children have an ability to make friends easier and can have a determined sense of justice.

Thinking outside the box

middle child syndromeThey also have more patience, suggesting that they were used to “waiting their turn” during childhood. They tend have better developed good social skills, and a natural charisma. With the ability to interact with those older and younger, middle born children are very good at diplomacy and compromise. Although this can manifest itself at times as trying to please everyone, and middle children are not particularly good with confrontation. Middle children are more adept at “thinking outside the box” than their other birth placed siblings, and inspire natural born leaders. Interestingly 52% of American presidents since 1787 have been middle borns.


Middle children are more likely to be faithful to partners in a relationship with one study showing 80% of middle children remained faithful in comparison to 65% of first born children and just 53% of last born children. A further study showed that of 300 middle children which had families of their own, 99% of them did not favour middle children but were more inclined to focus on ensuring fairness among all of their children.

Famous middle children

As if all the positive news isn’t enough for middle children there are many inspirational, globally successful middle children. Bill Gates, undoubtedly one of the most successful men on the planet is a middle child, displaying his obvious attribute of “thinking outside the box.” Tony Blair is a middle child and whether or not his politics are your cup of tea, charisma and leadership qualities were among his attributes in helping labour back into power and his diplomatic skills assisting to bring peace in Northern Ireland. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, were both middle children and could be said to be typical middle children who have a determined sense of fighting for fairness and justice.

So despite feeling the pinch during childhood as the middle child, there is no need to feel resentment as we (myself included) grow, it’s a case of looking ahead as it may well have placed you in the best position of all. Middle children, it transpires, are the very interesting filling of the sibling sandwich.



About Shani Fowler

About Shani Fowler

Shani is 46 years old and a mum to a five year old little boy, Zak. Together with her husband and German Shepherd Bo, they live in Rothwell, Leeds. For over twenty years Shani worked as a Practice Manager in a Solicitors Practice. During her time there she was lucky enough to have been put through University and studied for four years, obtaining a BA (Hons) Degree in Business Studies. Sadly, the Solicitors Practice closed in September of 2012 but the time felt right to spread her wings a little and set up a Freelance Bookkeeping Service which so far has been successful. The flexibility also allows Shani to focus on her passion for writing too. She love reading, writing and dancing and has been dancing for about ten years now despite her husband insisting she's not improved, and informing her she possesses the fluidity of movement similar to that of C3PO (the robot from Star Wars)! Her favourite film is Shaw Shank Redemption, closely followed by Chicago, American Beauty and Philadelphia and her favourite book is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. Shani loves to holiday in Ixia, Greece, loves the Lake District and most of all loves her family (including Bo), friends and loves to laugh!

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