To ask if there is any truth to "middle-child sydrome"?

(108 Posts)
FromHereToNextTuesday Sat 05-Jan-13 22:48:35

I'm having my third child, and am hearing more and more of the problems facing a middle child. Am I really exposing the 2nd to a lifetime of disadvantages by giving her a a younger sibling? Really??

sausagesandwich34 Sat 05-Jan-13 22:49:38

what sex is DC1?

makes a difference IMO

FromHereToNextTuesday Sat 05-Jan-13 22:52:31

*syndrome, obviously.

DC1 is a boy.

I am middle child.
I have only 2 DC .

The only advantages being a middle child has given me is:
I can compromise. Because you have to.
I can cook. Because my older Dsis used to disappear to the bedroom (we shared) and my younger DBro got sent outside to play "because he'll just play about".

And my mum was only too keen to foist off delegate any housework to any willing or unwilling volunteer (ie me)

gimmecakeandcandy Sat 05-Jan-13 22:55:23

I hear a lot of friends who are in a family of three that it was one against two etc so maybe you just need to keep an eye on things? Do you have one of each now? If so, there may be issues with the children who are of the same gender.

BestIsWest Sat 05-Jan-13 22:57:11

Not necessarily. DM is a middle child (Older brother, younger sister who was very sick as a child). She is the most well adjusted, evenly balanced, considerate person I know. Very soothing, always the peacekeeper. She says it comes from being the middle child and sorting out the family battles.Having to fight to be heard as the middle child has also made her quite outspoken and a true campaigner against injustice.

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Sat 05-Jan-13 22:57:20

The book on epigenetics I am currently reading says, "no". No effects found in decent, recent research. IM unscientific O it is seen in families where it goes...girl...5 years... girl...9 months...boy. Like the second girl wasn't wanted and the boy was (or vice versa).

gordyslovesheep Sat 05-Jan-13 22:58:41

oh my middle one is lovely - her big sister is uber competitive and a bit of a bossy cow - DD3 is the baby Diva - DD2 is chilled and a bit mad but actually very loving and funny - hopefully she wont grow up to be a crazy cat lady or anything!

*NB I love all 3 equally and unequivocally - they are all wonderful - but number 2 is closest to me in many ways

vjg13 Sat 05-Jan-13 22:59:19

I am a middle child and would happily have had 3 children if my circumstances had been different.

missmatched Sat 05-Jan-13 23:01:13

I think it does,I felt/feel generally unloved sometimes growing up and now.My sisters always have a fuss made of them on thier birthdays mine passes by quietly.I would say though I am very independent because of this and I sometimes wonder if I made more of an issue of needing my parents would I still feel this way.but I feel its to late now so I will just get on with it alone (well with my family I created myself).

tiffinbaker Sat 05-Jan-13 23:02:34

It does make a difference yes - I think it can be stronger in families where there are 3 the same gender. e.g. - eldest one is the "brainbox", little one is the good looking one - middle one not as brainy as eldest, not as good looking as littlest, struggles to find an identity and various issues that spring from that. It's avoidable though - make sure that each DC has 1:1 parent time sometimes and gets praise and encouragement as an individual not just as one-of-three.

NotAnotherPackedLunch Sat 05-Jan-13 23:02:53

Like 70isaLimit I am the middle of 3 and have chosen to have 2DC. grin

sausagesandwich34 Sat 05-Jan-13 23:05:01

I'm middle

we go girl, girl, boy

I always felt totally sidelined like I didn't matter

I obviously don't think it was intentional but it was definitely how it felt

as a result I'm a pleaser and try to be peace maker
I've really struggled with adult relationships because of that

it could of happened if I was one of 2, I've no way of knowing but I made a choice to stop at 2

I do think the order of the dcs is important though and if I had an older brother rather than sister I think things would have been very different

MerylStrop Sat 05-Jan-13 23:05:27

DD is a middle child between 2 boys.

She is definitely the most highly strung of the 3, and I sometimes sense there is something about needing to assert her position in the family through being high maintenance. She is also a very happy child and is always laughing.

But I would say that DS2 has been the most brilliant thing for her. They adore each other and play together all the time when she is not at school.

So, I suppose, in answer to your question, I am not sure.

MrsKeithRichards Sat 05-Jan-13 23:10:02

Gordy That's how it worked with my sisters and I. Three of us, my big sister is a bossy mare, middle is placid, eager to please and very thoughtful and generally perfectly lovely, I'm a foot stamping diva.

Overthehillmum Sat 05-Jan-13 23:12:50

I was one of 5 children but the second youngest, between two sisters, i certainly feel like tiffin said, my eldest sister was the clever one, my youngest sister was the cute baby one, i was pretty much ignored, sometimes referred to as the difficult moody one. But i do think it is down to the parenting, out off all of us i have been the most successful, but in family gatherings i am still seen as a bit different, but i think that is because i have never needed any of my families validation, i have my own friends and my own life, but they rely on me to swan in and fix anything that goes wrong!! Funnily enough, i chose to have only two children, but both feel the other is the favoured child!!

gordyslovesheep Sat 05-Jan-13 23:14:37

I am the baby of 2 - also a foot stamping diva MrsK - I think that's a youngest child thing grin

Happypiglet Sat 05-Jan-13 23:15:39

I have three (very close in age) and it goes boy, boy, girl. DS2 is fabulous, bright, funny and certainly a peace keeper. He is a good loser (which helps with his uber competitive siblings) and a great negotiator and can talk his siblings round better than me! He adores his little sister and remains close to his big bro. They are both much much higher maintenance than him. I refer to him as the jam in our sandwich which he adores. I truly hope I never overlook him. And that he feels as special to me as they all are. Just go for it!

wannabedreams Sat 05-Jan-13 23:20:16

My middle child who is now six has been an amazing big sister and she was actually a bit difficult before her baby sister was born, I think she is happier now and has more purpose, I don't think she liked being the youngest and we focus more on her being 'a big sister' now than on the fact she is now a 'middle child'.

Utterlylostandneedtogo Sat 05-Jan-13 23:21:51

My mum would tell you there is but then again my mum is the woman who sat and told a total stranger (to her) whilst discussing the possibility of me adding to my brood

"I really fell in love with my first ( my sister) she was the perfect baby, beautiful, charming, kind natured, everything. I knew i had to have another. Then I had my second (me) and it was the worst experience of my life. I had the demon child, everything about her was hard work, it still is, nothing about her was enjoyable. I knew then I would need another (my brother) to make amends to myself and prove that it wasn't me that was at fault and I was lucky to be blessed with a second perfect child"

My mum is a cunt.

gordyslovesheep Sat 05-Jan-13 23:22:02

I tell dd2 she is special as she is the only one who is both younger and older sister - she rolls her eyes grin I am so stealing the 'jam in the sandwich' line!

gordyslovesheep Sat 05-Jan-13 23:22:48

ph and Utterly sad that is horrible x

dizzydixies Sat 05-Jan-13 23:23:00

Oh god I have 3DDs and its exactly like mentioned above. DD1 no problem, excellent at school and DD3 the pretty princess diva strop. DD2 desperately wants to be a boy and won't wear girls clothing etc - has been this way since she was 3 She is kind, funny, loving and has the biggest heart of all of them. I tell her how happy she makes me every single day and how proud of her I am. I have no clue how to avoid 'middle child syndrome' but my god they'll all know how loved they are!

Utterlylostandneedtogo Sat 05-Jan-13 23:24:27

Sums her up really. I had a lot of health problems as a baby and was in and out of hospital until I was about 3 and I paid the price for tearing her away from her precious first born ever since

gordyslovesheep Sat 05-Jan-13 23:26:40

Oh I hope none of my girls ever hear me say such spiteful things Utterly I am sorry she was so cruel

Dizzy My middle one says she is a 'tom boy' and plays football as gets muddy - she is my little odd ball and has a wicked sense of humour

Utterlylostandneedtogo Sat 05-Jan-13 23:29:01

Thanks gordy you don't sound like the same type of parent so I doubt your dcs will ever hear you say such things. Just wish shed have the balls to apologise herself!

But yeah. Ask my mum and shell tell you middle child syndrome exists...he'll even I'd say it exists if you're the unfortunate middle child brought up by my mother! grin

TwoFacedCows Sat 05-Jan-13 23:30:16

my sister is the middle, she is crazy. She is a total attention seeker, always has a medical problem on the go. most recently bi polar- which is an insult to people that actually have it!
She always feels hard done by, thinks that she was neglected, thinks that my parents were poor.

She is just a total attention seeking cow.

dizzydixies Sat 05-Jan-13 23:30:19

oh sad utterly that's just awful

gordy - it's beyond tomboy, she has cried her self to sleep because she's not a boy, when we're away on holiday she introduces herself as the boys version of her name & the school Ed psychologist has been involved. She is exactly the same in terms of wicked sense of humour though grin

gordyslovesheep Sat 05-Jan-13 23:32:34

bless her - kids are funny buggers!

BackforGood Sat 05-Jan-13 23:33:13

Well, I have 3, and I know we don't compare but my middle one is by far and away the easiest of my 3 to live with.
What is the middle child supposed to suffer from ? confused

I have 5 and am one of 3. My middle child is very much a middle child as I have ages 16, 14, 9, 2 and 1. So my 9 year old has 2 much older and 2 much younger sibs.
The thing is even when she was the youngest child she was hard work!! So now she happens to be the middle child I'm reluctant to put it down to middle child syndrome. If anything I thing not being the youngest has done wonders for her as she adores her little sisters and they her.

I think it is often dependent on parenting. It's easily done but I think having 2 at either side has made a difference. I'd love number 6 to even things up but I'm not allowed.

hammyimo Sat 05-Jan-13 23:59:26

The middle one in our family was the absolute favourite. She still is.

She'll always feel she was hard done by though.

jojane Sun 06-Jan-13 00:01:32

I have boy- girl- boy
I am hoping that as dd is the middle child, being a different gender to the other 2 means that there won't be any jealousy issues.

CointreauVersial Sun 06-Jan-13 00:12:02

I have boy-girl-girl.

DD1 is the most well-adjusted and self-sufficient of the three, but she and DD2 are inseparable, so I don't think she feels like a middle child particularly. DS is high maintenance and neurotic, and DD2 is......a foot-stamping diva (there's a theme developing....).grin

I think middle child syndrome is most noticeable when you have three of the same sex.

MummytoKatie Sun 06-Jan-13 01:30:38

For some reason I have had two serious boyfriends who have been the middle child of 3 boys. (One of whom is dh.) Both were serious academic over achievers.

My vague theory is that it does exist and that they both over achieved to ensure they were noticed.

I think there are worse things!

sashh Sun 06-Jan-13 05:36:53

Both my parents are both the oldest of three.

Both my mother's sisters have 2 children.

One of my dad's brothers has two, the other (middle child) has three.

My brother has three, no 3 was a bit of a suprise.

I think a lot depends on the parents and on the children. If you have three the same sex I think there is more chance of 'middle child syndrome' particularly if you are handing down clothes.

One of my friends who has three has deliberatly created time to do something with each child as an individual.

My brother has girl, boy, girl. I have bought shared presents for the younger two (scuba diving lesson) and other times I have bought the girls, the same or similar present such as jewelry and the boy soomething else.

WandaDoff Sun 06-Jan-13 05:57:23

I have boy - boy - girl.

My boys are large but absolutely beautiful in my eyes.

My oldest will be 16, this year.
I've gotta say, I'm not ready, I was 16 when he was concieved, & I'm still waiting for the moment that FB notices that.

gimmecakeandcandy Sun 06-Jan-13 08:07:10

That's awful utterly do you still see her?

turkeyboots Sun 06-Jan-13 08:39:22

I am the eldest of 3 and am only having 2 !

My sis is the middle child, as was my DM. So she over compensated for "middle child syndrome" and Dsis ended up a drama llama of the highest order with serious entitlement issues.

Iwillorderthefood Sun 06-Jan-13 08:48:31

My dad was ds3, his middle brother and him always ganged up on the older DS1. DS1 was quiet, academic and a loner, DS2 academic, but energetic with a colourful personality. My Dad has always been considered the rebel as his family were Methodist and he used to have a drink of beer every so often and play sport on Sundays! He is also the least academic having not been to university.

Mapal Sun 06-Jan-13 08:52:52

I am the middle child, the order was boy - girl (Me) - boy.
I think its down to gender order and parenting. I never had any issues, my big bro was special because he was the oldest, my little bro was special because he was my mums baby, I was special because I was the girl. Just make sure they all know tjeyre special and it will be fine. I do wonder if my experience would have been as positive if we had been different genders though.

singaporeswing Sun 06-Jan-13 08:55:06

I'm a middle child with older sister (5 yr gap) and younger brother (2 yr gap) and have always felt left out. As such, I've become the peacemaker and the academic overachiever, but also the one needing constant reassurance.

When I have DC, I'm definitely considering an even number - probably 4.

5inabed Sun 06-Jan-13 09:07:06

I don't think there is a middle child syndrome all the things that are upsetting the middle children on here feeling ignored, judged as not pretty or clever enough just sound like bad parenting. Children are who they are regardless of birth order. I am the middle child in my family we go girl 21 months girl 30 months boy my sister is out spoken and confident I was more shy and my brother was definitely the baby but my mum made sure we all felt special and spent one on one time with us all and didn't assign us roles the pretty one, the shy one etc. We all get on well and live close to each other babysit each others children I see my sister most days. I have 3 children of my own and they are dd1 21 months ds 26 months dd2 The girls are confident, and usually out spoken and my son has been described as quietly confident. My children are young 7, 5 and almost 3 but perhaps avoiding comparing them and treating them equally will help them feel equally special and not in need to develop syndromes.

HollyBerryBush Sun 06-Jan-13 09:07:43

It depends on the child. I have 3 boys - the middle one is far and away the easiest to live with - but then the oldest has LDs and the youngest has autism - so he would be!

He was also the worst pregnancy on earth, spend a long time in neo-natal, had the assiciated problems. I swore I'd never have another one after that experience.

He is the one we delegate all responsibility to, and he gets the lions share of our time, purely through common interests, and he is the most spoilt. People lie when they say they don't have favourites; I might love them the same, but I prefer to be with my middle one. He is my special child, the one I invest all my hopes and dreams in.

My mother on the otherhand was the middle one of 5, two older brothers, two younger sisters. She was dreadfully scapegoated by her own mother, yet spoilt by her father and paternal grandmother - purely to wind up her own mother I think. They compensated for the lack of maternal care..

pictish Sun 06-Jan-13 09:17:58

I have three children too.

There are 6 years between 1 and 2, and only 14 months between 2 and 3 though, so that middle child dynamic isn't really at play.
There's ds1 who is 11 and independently too cool for school, then there's ds2 just 5, and dd nearly 4, who are preschoolers and into all things nursery and little kiddy.

We think of it more as ds1...then 'the little ones'. They are all close and get on well, and there's no jealousy at play. The two little ones are the best of friends most of the time and it's very much a case of two-of-everything with such a close age gap. Ds1 is too old to be interested in anything they're up to....and his needs are very different.

I don't think our middle child feels left out or sidelined. I hope not anyway!

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 09:21:22

My children's teacher at school told me once, that it was obvious to her, the differences in where the children in her class came from, whether they were the oldest, middle etc

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 09:25:15

At first glance my brother is "classic middle child". But having been there, I can say without doubt it was more parental attitude towards his gender (and their gender expectations) than birth placement that caused the issues.

There is all sorts of opinin based bollocks about birth placement/less than ideal number of children. Unless somebody can pull out non iffy data to support any suposition I'd ignore said bollocks.

bruffin Sun 06-Jan-13 09:29:43

I am one of 3 girls and we fit fhe description given above. It probsbly didnt help that my little sis didnt come along until my middle sis was 5. My middle sis had been spoilt rotten by our gm who lived with us , so i suspect she felt hurt at no longer being the baby. My mum always treated equally but every one had to tread carefully around dsis.
Also my little sis and i looked a lot alike and she looked a bit different, which probably didnt help either.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 09:30:14

My children's teacher at school told me once, that it was obvious to her, the differences in where the children in her class came from, whether they were the oldest, middle etc

Confirmation bias.

Without a doubt she failed to include the ones she got wrong, forgot to factor in that she knew the child's birth order BEFORE she pigeon holed them, forgot to add to the picture the the kids that did not comply with the sterotypes. It's just what humans do, see patterns where there are none.

littlewhitebag Sun 06-Jan-13 09:32:32

I don't think it make any deference at all. I have had three children in total - all girls. DD1 & DD2 born close together making DD2 the youngest at that time. Then DD1 was killed aged 5 and DD2 became an only. A few years later we had DD3 so DD2 became the eldest. This means that although she is my middle child she has, however in fact been all positions! She can be a bit of a diva and she is very independent (age 20 now) - but she is most like me and i am very close to her. My youngest (age 15 now) is calm, placid and eager to please and a total pleasure to have around.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 09:33:53

Loquace, maybe?

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 09:34:52

I do think, like another poster said, that the gender orders involved may make a difference.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 09:37:12

Loquce, also like you said, I would agree that parental action can affect things.
Youngest child can be babied, eldest child is given the most responsibility etc

pictish Sun 06-Jan-13 09:40:26

I agree with loquace regarding what the teacher said.

I'd take that with a masive pinch of salt tbh.

We have 4 boys - 2 close in age, a 4 year gap, another 2 close in age.
DS2 and DS3 cannot stand each other and are in fierce competition to each other.
I have no idea whether it is because they are both middle children, or because of their personalities, or because DS3 'stole' DS2's youngest child status? All I know, it is wearing...

No idea whether a middle child syndrome exists: my dad was one of 3; he had 2, his brother adopted one, his sister had none. My husband was the youngest of 3; he wanted 2 or 4. Make of that what you want.

DeckSwabber Sun 06-Jan-13 09:51:33

I really think it depends from family to family.

Both my parents were eldest (though my mother is a twin and technically younger that her twin - they were the eldest of six). I am the younger of two. (I chose another younger of two as a partner).

I wonder if either of my parents gave any thought to what it was like to be a 'younger'. My dad didn't really like his younger brother and my mum and her twin both had to do a lot of childcare for their siblings and admits to being quite nasty to her younger sisters and resentful of the youngest boy. I didn't feel very loved by my mother and funnily enough I wanted her to have another baby. I was quite upset when she said she had had enough children and had been sterilized.

I have three boys and while our 'family' interests have been influenced more by my older child, and what I spend on him usually sets the bar for the others, I think I'm more aware of the younger ones and try to encourage them to do their own thing. I try to chat to each one on their own for a few minutes each day (doesn't always work). They get on pretty well though they are very different.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 09:54:30


Not if she is that convinced of her powers of deduction, no, not maybe.

If she is convinced of the correctness of the hypothosies that leaves little room for her to see the elements that do not support her pet theory and given her assertion that she can always tell, she is failing to note that she is overestimating her ability to be a nutral observer.

It's not a slamming critisim of her as a person (As humans we are all a bit prone to confirmation bias) just a critisim of her methods of deduction and her conclusions that based on her inability to see her own bias becuase she is invested in her expertise as "birth order" predictor.

We all do it to some extent with a area that sparked an interest.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 10:01:31

Youngest child can be babied, eldest child is given the most responsibility etc

Yes. But there are too many variables in degree of application, too many personalities combined with specific parental behavoirs to support a sweeping statement that birth order WILL USUALLY create specific outcomes.

In the case of my family the extent to which the parents felt confident in assigning "birth order issues" as the cause of a specific set of the child's behavoirs mattered far more. They created a self fulfilling prophecy.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 10:05:17

So are you saying the op may be right to be a little concerned?

I'm the middle in a girl girl boy family.
I feel exactly as the other posters with same dynamics.

I was over looked, I am diplomatic, peacemaker and hugely sensitive and independent.

I hate all forms of solo competitiveness, I am practical and have a over inflated mothering instinct.

I only have two children, most certainly planned that way.

lollilou Sun 06-Jan-13 10:06:11

It does make a difference yes - I think it can be stronger in families where there are 3 the same gender. e.g. - eldest one is the "brainbox", little one is the good looking one - middle one not as brainy as eldest, not as good looking as littlest, struggles to find an identity and various issues that spring from that. It's avoidable though - make sure that each DC has 1:1 parent time sometimes and gets praise and encouragement as an individual not just as one-of-three.

Absolutely spot on.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 10:08:41

Ok. I have several children. By definition there is a middle one, or more.

I would say to the op, to just keep an eye out for the middle one.
She may not end up getting as much attention, parental imput, stimualtion, personal growth through more interactive play and learning, that she may have got without the third child.
But hopefully, if you bear that in mind, she may not be disadvantaged at all.

mum23girlys Sun 06-Jan-13 10:14:00

I agree with other posters who say it depends on gender. I was middle of 3. An older brother and younger sister. I think I was unfairly expected to do far more than my share and I was definitely treated differently. It's a good thing though as I am very independent and everything I've got my dh and I have worked hard for. My sister on the other hand can't even get a car insurance quote without getting my mum to do it. Worrying as she is 30, a mum and a teacher!!!

When we were kids there was often a 2 against 1 war going on in our house. Usually against me grin however it's not had any lasting effects and didn't stop me having 3 of my own. My 3 are all girls.and appear to get on great. Early days yet though as youngest only 2. I think I know the signs to watch out for and Will try hard not take anyone feel excluded.

Having said all that my middle daughter is definitely the hardest work but is by far the most loving. My mum always said she had middle child syndrome even as a toddler and before we'd even spoken about the chance of a third

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Sun 06-Jan-13 10:14:20

I'm a middle child of three girls. Oldest had attitude, youngest had temper tantrums. I was always self sufficient and happy to entertain myself, therefore I was the favourite. We all knew, my parents used to call me best in nest.

I am in no way implying that this is a good thing to do, but i was definitely not a sufferer of the middle child syndrome, and the fact that my parents told me i was the easiest to be with, made me never crave their attention, whereas both my sisters still crave attention from my parents.

My ExDP was a middle child of three boys, and he had a negative experience. The oldest was 'the first' child, whilst the youngest was the baby, and he was ignored and under appreciated.

I am the only middle child i know that had a positive experience. However i think if you are aware of it and make an effort to balance out your attention etc. there is no reason why your DD would ever feel left out.

SugarplumMary Sun 06-Jan-13 10:15:56

I am middle child.
I have 3 DC .

I have a brother and sister and my 3 DC are the same mix two girls and one boy though in a different order.

The 2 DC in our family have the worst poisons dynamics in both DH and my family.

I think parenting and personalities are going to make as much difference as birth order and age gaps I would suggest would also be in there.

It's something I'm aware of and try and gurad against though.

DeckSwabber Sun 06-Jan-13 10:18:42

I think you have to go with what feels right for you.

I like having three. I like it that all of them will have two siblings to turn to in the future.

mum23girlys Sun 06-Jan-13 10:19:46

Have to add I have to be very careful as eldest is exceptionally clever. She's just one of those kids that is good at everything. Middle dd always says she's proud of her sister when she's announced at assembly for whatever reason. But it must be hard and I try to make massive fuss of dd2 as well. Their teacher is aware of it too and is fabulous. (they are twins)

twooter Sun 06-Jan-13 10:30:25

I have 3 the same, and I'm ashamed to say that she often doesn't get as much attention as the others. Dc3 is very clingy and follows me around a lot of the time, dd1 is very insecure, and needs lots of reassurance to build up her confidence, whereas dd2 has always been very outgoing and self confident, and also tends to always be involved in games with the other two.

We do make sure that she gets taken out on her own a lot though, whether its just to the shops or the tip, or a more special day, and its lovely having her all herself.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 10:42:34

So are you saying the op may be right to be a little concerned?

I am saying the OP should be careful when exploring what she wants to believe to be the correct answer to her question

Anecdotes are not facts, but they can convince us that we "know stuff to be true" when if fact ...we don't. In some cases in our false state of "knowing stuff" we can go on to apply cod psychology that will impact how we evaluate each child's behaviours via fixed and vastly different filters based on birth order expectations. In most cases it won't cause any major issues, it will be a benign error of assessing on's expertise and not much else.

But not always.

For example.

An older child being responsible in a specific context may be ascribed to birth order and go uncommented upon because there is an expectation based on the false premise that this is the natural order of things due to them being the eldest. Whereas when they fail to be responsible in a wholly typical age/stage related manner, they may get it far more in the neck and have have far less slack cut because "birth order thinking" trumps bearing in mind their state of development.

Conversely in similar contexts the youngest may enjoy high praise for responsibility where they should be displaying an age specific capacity anyway, and get off scott free when they don't, with all sorts of excuses made for them.

BUT It doesn't follow that the eldest will the grow up responsible and the younger not so much. However it does make it hard for the family to see their now adult children as they actually are.

Case in point BIL is still seen as the responsible one and my husband the irresponsible baby. And how they are treated and are spoken to reflects that.

All this despite BIL being six figures in debt, his marriage shredded, his child deeply confused and his business on the point of folding ...all due to poor impulse control and heart not head thinking.

Dh on the other hand is still written off and dismissed as irresponsible, despite owning his home outright, being debt free and prudent with money, in a happy, stable marriage of long standing, with a kid doing well and a business that is surviving the economic crisis due to forward planning.

All the tangible evidence points to one reality, but the family and the "children" themselves see an imaginary reality based on ...a load of bollocks basically.

None of which does anybody any good in terms of family relations and self image, not least because you can't stop making the same mistakes again and again if you are always being told that the actual primary cause is not an ill from which you suffer due to your "birth order" birthright.

I think we need to challenge the idea that it's birth order that creates "issues" or "pre-ordained outcomes" and focus more on the potential disadvantages created thanks to the assumption that birth order matters. A false premise potentially responsible for leading to us conditioning ourselves to stereotype and pigeonhole our children and conditioning our children's self image.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 10:47:36

I think from that then, that you think the op is right to be concerned.
Because people around the ops children, will treat the three children differently according to birth order.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 10:55:52

that you think the op is right to be concerned.

I think the OP needs to be concerned with the quality of the data she bases her final conclusions on (which will impact how she sees and deals with her children's needs), not the birth order of her children.

Becuase if she prioritises the former, the latter is not likely to be a parental created issue.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 11:01:11

Sorry posted too soon.

A lack of parental reinforcement of birth order expectations is a massively effective vaccination against the opinions of third parties, be they teachers who think they have a magic crystal ball in their head where their brain ought to be, or relatives who like to make family "tidy" by sticking round pegs in square holes due to their inability to note a lack of corners.

Ditto parents of onlies. Cos there is a similar state of false state of knowing and banging on about "unavoidable outcomes" in that context too.

FoofyShmooffer Sun 06-Jan-13 11:08:29

I know that both my husband and my dad were middle children who were either ignored, put upon or controlled, sandwiched between the golden child and the baby.

I think the difference here is that if you are aware of the possibilities of this and work towards actively avoiding the prospect of ' middle child syndrome' then you've little to worry about.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 11:18:18

It's only wiki, but it is a good place to start looking into the question of the so called "middle child syndrome" and start the link hopping to find available studies and the names worth googling for more info and finding other studies not mentioned in the wiki.

Birth order is defined as a person's rank by age among his or her siblings. Birth order is often believed to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development. This assertion has been repeatedly challenged by researchers, yet birth order continues to have a strong presence in pop psychology and popular culture

there was, however, some tendency for people to perceive birth order effects when they were aware of the birth order of an individual

Harris concludes that birth order effects keep turning up because people keep looking for them, and keep analyzing and reanalyzing their data until they find them

Kt8791 Sun 06-Jan-13 11:20:51

I am one of 3, girl, boy, girl. My brother doesn't have middle child syndrome but IMO that is because he is the only boy. It s more like to occur if all 3 are the same gender. I am expecting dc3 ( have 2 boys) if as the parent you are aware of "middle child syndrome" the middle is likely to be treated the same. I will do my best to treat all three of my children the same. If anything I am guilty of expecting too much of my eldest who is only 14 months older than his brother.

3smellysocks Sun 06-Jan-13 11:21:49

middle children are suppose to end up more independent as adults, more laid back then the first child also.

I was ignored as a middle child but then have ensured that my own middle child gets lots of attention.

namechangerforaday Sun 06-Jan-13 11:24:30

I think there is - I have 3 under 5 and tbh, I am thinking of having another specifically for this reason.

DH had 3 in his first marriage and I dont know if its down to middle child syndrome, but his middle one is your worst nightmare come true.

Jelly15 Sun 06-Jan-13 11:35:13

I was middle of three girls. My older sister was the clever one, I was the quiet one and younger sister was the funny one, according to my mum. Both my sisters were tom boys and bullied the shit out of me. Any chores fell to me as big sister was studying and little sister was too young. Even now, we are all in our forties, my mum will take older sisters veiw on things and disreguard mine and she is forever bailing younger sister out financially.

I have two children hmm. I am long over it but it makes DH mad that I am obviously the least favourite. Both my DSs think they are my favourite and they are.

Sarraburd Sun 06-Jan-13 12:01:15

"both my DSs think they're my favourite and they are."

Love that jelly, it's what I aspire to, but am conscious that DD (eldest, actually) tends to get told to get on with it too often as DS2 had heart problems and now autism, so has been alot to deal with. She has started becoming a foot-stomping diva to get attention, so I know I need to nip it in the bud.

I'm eldest of 5 and rather than being golden child would say that I was more left to get on with things/ignored (had my head in a book the whole time so I guess it was path of least resistance as involving me would have been hard work); also had to do alot if childcare etc esp for the youngest one, as he's 14 years younger. I would say in our family both me ad next down DB split the elder child role, but don't think the middle ones suffered from middle child syndrome particularly - DB2 scapegoated a bit; DB3 if anything is the foot-stomping youngest; DB4 was again quite ignored as parents a bit fed up of parenting by that point - I would say I and DB1 did more of the parenting!

So, in my family I don't think there was such a thing as middle child syndrome as such, but definitely parenting issues that could have been avoided.

FWIW I have 3 DC - would have loved to have had another but DH (one of two) felt three enough; glad now I didn't have a fourth though as DS2 alot of work so the fourth wouldn't have had enough attention.

moogalicious Sun 06-Jan-13 12:15:57

Apologies if this has already been covered (in bed with flu so skim-read) but what if the middle child is a different sex?

We have girl boy girl, so our ds does not get overlooked. He is calm, generous and funny but fights like mad with his older sister. Him and dd2 are good friends.

However, I totally get what another poster says about other family members labelling them. According to the GPs dd1 is the clever one (even though the other 2 are just as bright), ds sporty and dd2 the pretty one . The last one particularly annoys me.

Sorry if rambling. . .feel like crap sad

moogalicious Sun 06-Jan-13 12:59:37

Killed the thread with my germs sad

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 13:07:57

Loquace. Do you think we should look around as as well as listen to science.
And do you agree that some science can be flawed?
And do you have children yourself?

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 13:41:38

Loquace. Do you think we should look around as as well as listen to science

Not the extent that we fail to look at the result of gobs of research at all, cherry pick the results that support our belief (resolutely ignoring the bulk that doesn't), and give far, far greater credence to what we "feel" to be true and anecdote.

And do you agree that some science can be flawed?

Scientists are human and therefore flawed. Scientists make flawed hypothesis. Scientists can fail to create quality studies that allow for their bias or confounding factors. Scientists can be blinded by bias and conveniently ignore that correlation is not causation. Scientists can even look at data and write an abstract/conclusion that is directly contradicted by their results. They can also hide the studies that didn't get the answer they were looking for and just keep going, tweaking their study till it spits out what they want to see, and publish just that one.

That is why there is peer review and why they look at a whole group of studies that ask the same question to see what the entire body of work produces. In the case of "birth order" hypothesises was put forward. Much of the work done by people who had some bias towards finding a positive result. Yet the body of work relating to said "syndromes" has failed to confirm that hypothesis as valid.

Yes science is flawed because scientists are people, but is it as flawed and unreliable as anecdote, cod science, "common sense" and pop psychology?

No, not by a long chalk. At the very least thanks to the reality that science has some checks and balances , and is prepared to change it's mind in light of new information and data. Unlike "anecdote" based beliefs that are almost iron clad resistant to any change.

And do you have children yourself?


jamdonut Sun 06-Jan-13 13:42:56

My daughter is the middle child between 2 boys. She is by far the most confident and go-getting of my 3, (although they are all very clever)...but she can be little madam when she wants. She is 16 ,not old enough to do the things her 20 year old brother can but old enough to boss her 12 year old brother about. (He gets the worst deal out of the lot). She thinks I don't parent I stand up too much for the younger one, and let the older one have his own way too much, when in reality, she gets the best of all worlds.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 13:50:33

Glad you wrote that about science. One of my sons is a researcher.

louisianablue2000 Sun 06-Jan-13 13:58:55

I'm the eldest of 4, G, B, B, G. I suspect gender might make a difference but not as much as parenting. DB1 and I are both 'eldest children' academic and awkward and demanding', DB2 is probably the most classic laid back middle child and everyone's favourite, BSis is no longer the 'baby' but was for a long time.

DH was the youngest of three, B, G, B and I think being a different sex helps distinguish a middle child. His sister is adored by her Dad and is definitely not ignored (I'd say DH suffers more from that).

We have three G, G, B. DS is only a few months old but at 3 DD2 is delightful. We always wanted three so hopefully she won't feel forgotten.

JingleUpTheHighway Sun 06-Jan-13 14:45:54

I'm a middle child and I hate it even now .

I resented the youngest sibling (sis) deeply growing up . Even now I'm still sidelined from the whole family . Never seen as important as the others .

If the oldest or youngest needs help , they get it . If I need help, nobody gives a shit . I'm effectively the outcast .

It goes boy , girl , girl .

It's very hurtful , but that doesn't meant to say that will happen within your family.

JingleUpTheHighway Sun 06-Jan-13 14:50:58

I was also used as the Baby sitter for the youngest one...

I often has to leave my activities early or miss out on things so I could watch the youngest whilst mum went shopping or out with friends . It pissed me right off and caused resentment toward the youngest .

Bitter? Moi?

shaztwins1 Sun 06-Jan-13 14:56:10

i suppose its how u spend your time between the 3 ie trying to spend the same amount of time with all 3 and making them all feel special in their own ways .I am a middle child of 3 girls and never felt left out but i have other issues with my upbringing (or lack of really lol) I myself have 3 kids boy/boy/girl but my middle child is a twin, ds1 is 10 and ds2/dd are 7 the boys will happily play fight together whilst dd does her own thing or ds2 and dd will play whilst ds1 does his own thing ds1 and dd hardly ever play together but i think its an age/gender thing as they all seem to get on most days ds2 is the easiest chilled out kid i know dd can be a madam when she wants to be and ds1 has his moments too so in my case ds2 is my easiest child compared with the other 2

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 06-Jan-13 15:08:22

I'm the middle of three, and we are definitely only having two DC, in part because of that. We are G, G, B which is probably the worst combination. Mind you, things like having to be the peacemaker (then and now) can become useful skills in adulthood, so it's not all bad

lljkk Sun 06-Jan-13 15:13:05

I suppose parents can create a middle child syndrome by typecasting their kids, and other parent ways of affecting dynamics.

I don't believe it's inherent to being in the middle. I don't see any such pattern in DC.

makinglemonade Sun 06-Jan-13 15:19:08

I'm a middle child and I think it has had an effect in me. I'm between 2 boys.
Older brother is 'golden child' who can do no wrong despite always getting in bother growing up. Even now I feel he gets let off the hook too early. There is a 2 year age difference between us but we do get on well.

Younger brother is the good looking witty popular one that everyone loves. There is 9 years age gap between us so I was expected to look after him a lot. We are very close.

I'm the independent confident one. I'm very sensitive and need lots of reassurance. I'm just like my dad and have always felt closer to him than my mum. I always felt that I was overlooked when growing up. There are very few photos of me as a baby but lots of the first child and the miracle youngest child. I wasn't planned - they where.

I don't think it did me too much harm. I'm theist settled and well rounded out of the 3 of us.

digerd Sun 06-Jan-13 15:23:03

It also depends on the personality genes that each child has.
!st born B - very intelligent but contrary/ fearless, non-competitive and laid back
2nd born G - timid, shy, fearful.
3rd born G - diva, show off, strong willed, competitive, fearless.

I was the one in the middle !!

There is no truth to middle child syndrome in my family. I have 3 DS with 2 year age gaps between each. All 3 with completely different qualities and personalities.

What would happen in a family with 4 DC would they have 2 with middle child syndrome? Or in a family of 2 DC would one get more attention that the other? I think its all down to the parenting and making sure each child has equal amounts of time and attention and not having 'favourites'

My heart goes out to you utterly because thats what happened to me. I was/am DD2 out of 3 girls, and was in and out of hospital for a while too as a baby, and was constantly reminded of the hardship my mother went through to take me to hospital and back, even though the hospital was only a mile away.

I was made to feel I was different to the other 2 , and still have problems forming friendships/relationships ever since, apart from my husband who understands me, but he is a second born (not middle child) so not sure if this is linked in any way.

hokeycakey Sun 06-Jan-13 15:53:01

I am the middle child of g g b apparently the worst combo?
I feel the luckiest in my family I have always had a great relationship with my brother & sister whereas they have often fallen out, me & my dad also have a great bond, I never felt unloved or sidelined but I do compromise a lot & am a major people pleaser

I have 3 kids will possibly have another but I would happily stop at 3, I just think it us so much more to do with how you parent & the personalities within the family

FromHereToNextTuesday Sun 06-Jan-13 16:24:36

Oh dear. Thank you all for replies, much food for thought here.

I do think in general birth order matters. I am a typical oldest, married to a typical oldest and it is scary how similar DS is to us. We are all unwavering and control freaks, but DD is already so different. She is so laid back and chirpy. I suppose I don't want to ruin her.

utterly I can't believe how vile your mother's words were.

Any tips on helping to neutralise the effects of birth order?

MrsDeVere Sun 06-Jan-13 16:30:41

I have five children but DC4 is very much a middle child.
DD one died 6 years ago and DS1 does not live at home anymore, he has his own flat.
So DC4 is between DC3 who has SN and takes up a LOT off my time and DC5 who is a joy but the youngest (so needs attention)

DC4 is the most adorable child but quiet and determined. He does not shout and scream but if he doesn't want to do something...he will just not do it and not do it in such a way that you do not notice he isn't doing it smile

I am the youngest of three and OH is the youngest of 12. I reckon I am a pretty typical youngest child grin

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 16:40:49

Any tips on helping to neutralise the effects of birth order?

Well if stopping believing in it doesn't work for you, maybe try believing in a version with a more postive slant?

Nelson Mandela was a middle child. And Ab. Lincon, JF Kennedy. Plus The Dalai Lama. Madonna for those who value performing arts.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 16:46:40

Nelson Mandela and Madonna both have several or many siblings as far as I am aware.
Thinking about it, so does JFK.

Loquace Sun 06-Jan-13 16:50:10

Nelson Mandela and Madonna both have several or many siblings as far as I am aware.

Hey, I never said the book in question was accurate and the people touting the theory on the money. Just as an alternative to a woman worried she is going to "ruin her child", perhaps believing in an optimistic unproven therory is better than an umproven doom filled one?

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 16:51:42

I think that if there are lots of "middle" children, that could and actually does alter the dynamic once again.
For instance I have seen a family with lots of one gender, then some of the other.
The first child in the new group is almost like the eldest child, and so on through the new group of gender siblings.

froggies Sun 06-Jan-13 16:51:57

My dad is middle one (g,b,b) he was the 'thick' one (very dyslexic), quiet, irritating, bit of a gadget geek and pushes himself a every sport he has ever tried. He is the only one of the three to have retired early, own his home outright, and now living the life of Riley on a very nice pension.

My mum was middle of three (b,g,b) she is a nightmare. Thinks everyone owes her something, dreadful at budgeting, dreadful in social situations, not responsible or sensible in anyway although she will tell you that she is.

I am middle of three (b,g,g) my dad worked very hard (to keep on top of my mums spending) so wasn't at home much. Big bro was the golden boy in mums eyes and could do no wrong. Little sis got lots of crap from mum as she was more mischievous. I was and probably still am the people pleaser. Also the most academic of all of us. I know little sis felt over shadowed by my academic achievements, we have talked about this, I hated having to let her do everything I did while brother got to do what he wanted without either of us. I would put all of our family dynamics and personal hangups down to our personalities and the way we were parented rather than birth order tbh.

I have 3: ds(16), dd(7) and dd(4). I try very hard to treat each of them as a person in their own right, and not to label them according to birth order or gender or anything. I would say they each have their strengths and weaknesses, and they are all different. Hopefully they all know I love them all as much as they need (and a bit more) all of the time.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 16:55:41

I see you point Loquace.

amillionyears Sun 06-Jan-13 16:55:54


sleepyhead Sun 06-Jan-13 17:05:25

My uncle is the stereotypical middle child - and doesn't he harp on about it hmm grin.

Actually, he's 2nd of 4, but his first brother was the "eldest", his younger brother was the "baby" and my mum was the "girl". He feels very bitter that he had no place and was hard done by on every level.

Thing is, he's by far and away the most successful of the 4, arguably the most accomplished and interesting, everyone in the family adores him but he's very difficult and truly believes he was the least favoured by his parents (no one else can wrk out where he gets this belief from, but it's clearly very real to him).

I suspect he'd have been exactly the same if he'd had any other birth position. The person in the family that he most resembles is his mother, who was a sterotypical only child..

meddie Sun 06-Jan-13 17:15:38

I am a middle child. Older sister, younger brother. It did irk me as a kid. My eldest sister would get favoured because 'she was the eldest' whereas my brother was treated leniently because either 'he was the baby' or 'he's a boy' (that one used to drive me nuts) I dont remember anyone saying let meddie have it first because she's the middle one.
I do think gender order plays a part. I imagine if I hadnt been the second daughter I would have been given privileges for being the 1st boy. as my mother was very gender biased. (I was total tomboy, drove her to distraction).
I think my major issues as a child revolved around the injustice of being disallowed from doing stuff I wanted just because I was a girl, rather than middle child issues.

Anifrangapani Sun 06-Jan-13 17:31:31

I am refered to as the "middlingest". I have 2 brothers and both of them feel I was the most leniently treated, I see it as being given the most chores.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now