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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??

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.

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.

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..

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


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

I see you point Loquace.

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 16:51:42

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.

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 16:46:40

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 16:40:49

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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?

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

crushedintherush Sun 06-Jan-13 15:46:44

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.

lovesthechaos3 Sun 06-Jan-13 15:27:09

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'

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 !!

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.

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.

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

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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

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

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.

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