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Middle Child Syndrome - does it exist? Is it possible to avoid it?

(32 Posts)
McDreamy Sat 12-Jul-08 07:59:52

Now that I am pregnant with number 3 I have been thinking about how the dynamics of our family might change and top of my list is "Middle Child Syndrome" Is it a myth? If not what can I do to avoid it happening to DS? (apart from having another one!!!!!)

I am one of three but I was the eldest so it didn't apply to me. Maybe I should have a chat with my brother?

amidaiwish Sat 12-Jul-08 08:02:10

i am a middle child. i think it's really important that the middle child has their own interests/identity. that way they won't get "squashed" between the eldest/youngest.

popsycal Sat 12-Jul-08 08:15:05

McDreamy - I regularly ponder the same thing. DS3 is due in a few months. I am the eldest of three girls and there is definitely an element to this in my middle sister who has had lots of issues in her teens but is now fabulous in her early thirties.

DS2 has the potential to be a typical 'middle child' and I am very aware of the whole thing but equally not 100% sure how to prevent it. I think there is less of an issue with 3 boys than 3 girls fwiw.

DS2 seems like he will be quite sporty - he is really agile, is a fast runner (faster than ds1 who is 2.5 years older) so he may find his 'thing'. I think it is important to have one to one time with each of them - though quite how you manage to fit it all in I am not sure. Looking back, my middle sister was always living in my shadow - she had the same interests as me, I was a little brighter than her at school, etc.


sarah293 Sat 12-Jul-08 08:16:29

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jammi Sat 12-Jul-08 08:31:15

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beaniesteve Sat 12-Jul-08 08:34:58

What exactly imiddle child syndrome? I am one and I feel I am well balanced. A middle child comes into the world automatically having to share, and not the centre of attention. I think An older child often has more difficulty with the birth of other children as their world changes - they are no longer the special only child and have many more issues to overcome and get used to IMO.

unknownrebelbang Sat 12-Jul-08 09:13:14

DS2 struggles. He's constantly in his older brother's shadow, and overshadowed by his younger brother, at school.

All three are quite close in age, which has its advantages and disadvantages.

He tends to get to do more - he can do activities with both DS1 and DS3, but rarely gets to spend (much) time with us by himself, whereas both DS1 and DS3 have natural opportunities to do so.

All three need to have their own interests, and DS2 does thrive when he gets the opportunity to do something by himself. He did a scouting gang show a couple of years ago and it made a big difference to him at the time. (DS3 joined him this time, which made a bit of difference, but they were in different sections so that still helped).

Of course, it could just be the personalities of DS2 anyway, all three are very different, but DS3 shares more similarities with DS1.

McDreamy Sat 12-Jul-08 09:18:44

You see my youngest brother and I are very similar personality wise which probably enhanced DB2's MCS!

I have one of each at the moment DD and then DS. I am hoping for another girl and then DS will always be special as the only boy, but in some ways another boy will mean they will play together more than DD will with a younger sister because of the age gap.

sarah293 Sat 12-Jul-08 10:24:56

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Pheebe Sat 12-Jul-08 17:53:37

Not sure what you mean by middle child syndrome

I'm the middle child and am the only 'normal' one of the three of us, by which I mean, well balanced, in a normal and stable relationship and with no 'issues'

Both my siblings are fruitloops of their own making grin

Perhaps sex and age gap plays a role, I ahve an older brother (4 year gap) and a younger sister (2 year gap)

beanieb Sat 12-Jul-08 18:57:06

Pheebe - That's what I wanted to know too. I'm middle and normal.

Perhaps parents project this label onto their children rather than it actually being inevitabl that there is some kind of syndrome.

AuntieMaggie Sat 12-Jul-08 19:06:22

I'm eldest of 3 so I didn't suffer from middle child syndrome but did suffer because I was the eldest. When there are 3 I think there is always the chance that one child will feel left out (2 company 3 a crowd...) and at some times it will be the eldest, sometimes the youngest and sometimes the middle child.

I have friends that are also one of 3 that agree that there are times when 1 gets left out.

But I think overall it depends on the parents and how they treat the children. The fact that you've even thought about it sounds as if you're going to do a great job so it won't be an issue.

Speak to your brother, but also use your own experiences as the eldest in how you treat your eldest. It's easy to leave them to get on with things cos their capable with a younger child and baby, but they still need as much attention as the others.

Good luck - am sure you will do brilliantly

Pheebe Sat 12-Jul-08 19:11:02

TBH and I really don't mean to insult anyone, when I hear comments like 'I suffered because I was the oldest, youngest, middlest' it makes me quite sad and a bit cross on behalf of the parents. It seems quite self indulgent to me and is perhaps in the nature of being a child (ie inherently selfish) that we always perceive our siblings to 'have it' better than we do/did. Grass is always greener etc. There are benefits and down sides to being in any position in a family. Perhaps if we all looked more to the benefits and looked to making our own families the happiest we can, we can all move forward instead of 'blaming' our parents for percevied ill deeds.

As you can see there's alot of my own family angst coming through in this post so please please don't take this personally, its just my point of view and perhaps food for thought

phee xx

Pheebe Sat 12-Jul-08 19:25:19

Great post and advice btw auntymaggie smile

MrsMacaroon Sat 12-Jul-08 19:26:44

i was middle child and it has upsides and downsides...i had lots to do with older bro and younger sis but that meant twice the fights and squabbles. bro and sis had little to do with each other.

little sis also played me off against big bro saying that i hit her etc so i would get thumped as he was more protective of her...the cow.

as an adult i would say i have the strongest identity actually. just make sure you remember to stick up for the middle child occasionally.

Freckle Sat 12-Jul-08 19:32:18

I'm the middle of 3 girls and have 3 boys myself. I always felt I was a bit different to my sisters and I have certainly gone out in the world more than they have. They are a lot closer to each other than they are to me, which may be because I buggered off abroad for quite a time leaving them behind (when they grew closer) or may be because they feel that they are, to a degree, in my shadow.

DS2 is certainly very different from his brothers. He is the main cause of my grey hairs and causes me more stress than the other two put together. Then again, I have a feeling that, at some point, he may make me prouder than I've ever been in my life. Time will tell.

Do middle children make more of themselves in order to establish a place in their lives? Eldest is always eldest/first born. Youngest is always the baby. What happens in families where there are more than 3 children? Do you get several children with MCS??

lilyloo Sat 12-Jul-08 19:38:06

mcdreamy i posted similair thread recently as i am one of 3 and my sis (middle) def thinks middle child exists.
She says she feels left out but think that's more to do with me and youngest sis have dc's and she doesn't. Also i think youngest sis who is 8 years younger than me prob felt more left out when we were growing up.
However i have just had dc number 3 so am accutely aware of trying to make sure dd1 (middle) isn't left out of things.

beanieb Sat 12-Jul-08 19:38:41

But MrsMacaroon, that is your own family dynamic and I bet personality had a lot to do with it. Are you still at loggerheads with your sister, and what about your brother how do you feel about him - he afterall was the one thumpiing you!

I was not close to my sister as I grew up, preferring the company of my younger brother. Yet these days my sister and I get on great and I don't have resentment towards her for the sometimes mean things she did to me. I know at times I was equally mean to her. We had what some might call a challenging chidhood but much of our perception of certain events is different, almost entirely because of the ages we were rather than our position in the family. As the oldest child my sister was aware of a lot more of the troubles in our family than I was because she was more mature.

My big family Dynamic was my relationship with my dad as we had very similar personalities and clashed a lot. Not because I was middle but because I was me and he was him.

beanieb Sat 12-Jul-08 19:43:51

Although I DO love telling people middle children are the besrt grin my OH is middle too and we have always joked about this being the main reason we get on even though really, if all the stereotypes are true perhaps we should be finding it very hard to live together grin

AuntieMaggie Sat 12-Jul-08 19:46:23

Thanks Pheebe

TBH the way me and my siblings were brought up hopefully isn't the norm. We were all treated differently, have all turned out to be completely different (not necessarily in good ways) and all have our own issues with the way we were treated. We are not and never have been or probably ever will be very close.

As I said before it's probably down to the parents more than anything. But you'll always get times when the eldest is too old to do something the other 2 are doing, or the youngest is too young. It's how you treat them on the whole IMO that matters.

littlepinkpixie Sat 12-Jul-08 19:53:25

My middle child is extremely confident, and has her own identity. She isnt in anyones shadow!
She doesnt feel left out, or that she is missing out in some way (well, she is 3 years old, so she probably does think that, but she has no reason to grin )
My oldest child is I think a fairly typical oldest child, careful and consceintious. The other two are much more confident and carefree.

MrsMacaroon Sun 13-Jul-08 00:46:14

beanieb- we had a very dysfunctional upbringing too as dad was chronic alcoholic so not sure how much that affected the family a person i am just more forthright than my bro and sis. never felt that i was in anyone's shadow but it might be different if the oldest and middle are different genders...?

McDreamy Sun 13-Jul-08 07:13:15

Thanks everyone some great posts and advice here smile

anotherdayyetanothernickname Sun 13-Jul-08 10:11:41

Presume there must also be eldest child syndrome, youngest child syndrome and only child syndrome?

I guess there must be the odd issue around birth order but I think it is probably relatively minor in most cases?

Speaking as the youngest of four, I had to shout louder to get heard so probably developed a certain bolshiness. Everyone assumes you must be spoilt as the last one but actually I really don't think I was - if anything the opposite as I was the only girl of the four so just got dragged around boyish stuff when we went on outings etc.

Elkat Sun 13-Jul-08 16:00:24

My hubby is one of three and he refused to have any more than 2 as a result. He says that one gets left out, and when two siblings are closer that they can ignore / leave out the third. Also, if parents have favourites... But he is not the middle child, so its not just the middle child you have got to look out for! (But I also think if you know what to look out for, then you can do something about it grin)

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