Middle Child Syndrome

middle child syndrome

What is a Middle Child?

A middle child is someone who is born in between two or more siblings. Being born in the middle, as you’ll soon find out is not that simple. The middle child, unlike the eldest or youngest child, does not get much attention. Middle children are also usually considered outcasts in their families and often develop a condition called Middle Child Syndrome.

What is Middle Child Syndrome?


Middle child syndrome is a condition in which children born in the middle experience feelings of emptiness, inadequacy and jealousy. It is also characterized by low self-esteem and extreme introversion, sometimes even leading to psychotic behavior.

The middle child, unlike the eldest child and the youngest child, is not given much attention. They have to go the extra mile just to get some of it. Middle children tend to be achievers because they need awards to be recognized by their parents. Sadly, this also goes the other way around, they can be very troublesome and determined to get noticed even if it means getting scolded at or punished.

Because they lack emotional support and guidance from their parents, they will always have a sense of low self-esteem. These feelings of emptiness and loneliness make them not very friendly and maybe even weird to other people. Most likely, these negative feelings will also stop them from pursuing what they want.

Other observable traits of middle children are insecurity and jealousy. Being raised in an environment where they have to compete for attention, it’s natural for them to have feelings of insecurity and jealousy of others. Seeing others easily get attention while they continue to strive for attention, these feelings of resentment towards others will continue to build up. All these repressed feelings of being unloved, unwanted or even hated can trigger an extreme case of middle child syndrome where they show psychotic behavior.

Possible Causes of Middle Child Syndrome

After discussing the common traits of people with middle child syndrome, we can find two main causes, identity crisis and lack of emotional support.

Identity crisis is very common to us all, and it’s something that we all experience at some point in our lives. Wanting to be different from everyone else is very normal and there’s not much we can do about it. The other cause is lack of support. Because the eldest and youngest are the common favorites, the middle child is not given any support or attention. This unloved feeling makes them less confident and envious of others, often leading to even more problems such as drug abuse.

Is there a Solution?

Some say that middle children should be given the love and attention that they should have had when they were young, but I believe this will only make them more dependent on their parent’s approval.

There are also cases where middle children tend to separate from their family at a relatively early age to have families of their own. While having a new family means getting another chance, I do not think this is the best solution because escaping the past will not really resolve any childhood issues and these issues may haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The main cause of middle child syndrome is lack of emotional support, which is the responsibility of the parents. So logically, I would have to say that good and responsible parenting is the real and outright solution for middle child syndrome. While this may sound more like prevention rather than treatment, I think that it’s never too late for good and responsible parenting.

But this is just my opinion, what do you think? Comments are very much appreciated.

P.S. I’m a middle child in case you’re wondering. :)

{ 820 comments… read them below or add one }

OhThisMiddleness February 9, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I am reading all these posts in the middle of my depression and search for answers as to why i am the way i am and why i feel the way i do. i think there are a lot of core issues people tend to leave out and should attend to when they get the chance they can. firstly, there is the issue of supressing or “numbing” our feelings/emotions. this is a big issue and should be dealt with as emotions are key in guiding our lives. I am a middle of 3 sisters (i dont count my other 2 younger siblings because they were born later) and i have the most middle of middle characteristics. the gaps are 3yr and 1 year. there are also feelings of not deserving our parents attention and therefore not really being jelous because we dont feel like we deserve the attention. as a middle i realised that i constantly tried to prove that i was worthy of attention and always compared myself to others to try and see ways that i could behave and act the same way in order to get that unconditional love. i also was an overachiever in sports and academics to also do things that would make me earn the attention. now i am trying to learn that i deserve to be treated like anyone else and that i do not have to prove worthy of attention or good treatment and that i deserve it either way. if any of you out there feel the same way it would be nice to know, something that might help me during my depression.
thanks

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lexi January 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I just wish I never had brothers exept my oldest brothe

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Jessica January 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

Now I know what happened to me. I am a middle child, I have an older brother who is 5 years older than me and a younger sister who is 5 years younger than me. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had always attached to friends. I read in a few other articles about MCS that middle child usually make friends as an additional family for attention they don’t get from their real family. That’s why I was quite secretive to my parents and much more open to friends. Unluckily, I didn’t have any friends during high school (the best time of life, or so people say) thanks to my parents. They are way too strict, I hardly get to hang out with my classmates and slowly but surely I’m a stranger around my friends.
I wasn’t a jealousy person though. I didn’t care much about my parents appraisal since I got friends until I was in middle school. Now watching my sister who’s in high school I can’t help but feel jealous. My parents are way more flexible to her, and she hardly do the household stuff since she’s the youngest. I’m the one who do most of it, my brother never did any since he’s a guy. Yes I’m Asian and my parents are very very very conservative. I would never have three kids. I don’t want my kids to experienced what I did.

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 4:45 am

This sounds pretty cool, that society finds and labels feelings, behaviors, emotions. Why with this human race we just accept things for being simply what they , always splitting things down the middle to understand something that may not be so common. I’m a middle child, i have one sister that is older and she is 38-39, i am 35, and my younger sister is like 28-29.
i have to say i do see a patter, my friends are my family, because i did not accept my own, because i felt may at times they say as the rest of the comments. but jealousy i don’t think was a problem however if i saw something better than me , i made it my business to be better as much as i could have been, learned how to draw, play instruments, dance etc.. i wanted to stand out and still do, i always think these a plan for me but never experience it yet, if i cared enough i would be the best at what i do and create my own expectations and standards and set new ones. i go out of my way to do good things for wrong reason, i try hard and have become successful in being extreme..over the top , you name it! what i find interesting is that i do not truly love anything on anyone the way i hear people do, i feel what i am told…by how others explain it, how i should feel, but deep down inside i don’t think i really care because i accept defeat i expect things to go wrong, i believe it is due to i was not taught emotions, love happiness…

i dont enjoy things i do it to be the best or to out show someone else and after that i have no interest, even with women, i dont want kids because i think i would be a poor parent as my own and i am ok with that. im usually not easy to get along with however i am a loyal friend, people do find me weird, but in a nerd way, in a smart way, but i know that i am not a smart guy, which makes me think these people are dumber than me!…they must be if they think that i am smart…i can read people without really having to know them and i have a nac for understanding things differently and i am so not a follower, i do try and make sure i fall under the theme of people being the same or looking the same, and i do try to make sure i am not like the norm …i will not react the same way as one would think and that pretty much it so…am i damaged goods or what?

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Dustin February 14, 2014 at 12:27 am

MCS does not apply to the middle child that is a different gender than the other two. Espically in your case the boy with one older one younger sister. Everything the only son does is special.

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bobbie January 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

I was looking for something that fit my brother, the middle child.I am the only & oldest girl of 4 brothers. Don’t remember much about my “chores” before age 12 when I became their sister, baby sitter, nanny. Read several & can’t find him in any. My baby brother has 3 sons, 1985, 1987, 1989. Ryan, the oldest said, “Eric was daddy’s boy, Caleb was mama’s boy & I am the oldest”.

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bobbie January 10, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Had to post something so I chose what Ryan told me because I had not heard it before.

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~L December 30, 2013 at 11:49 am

I am the middle chid. My brother is the oldest and I am the middle of 3 sisters. I am now really beginning to realize the effect of MCS. I never felt truly emotionally supported by my parents. I was into different school activities and when I did do the same activities as my siblings I felt supported but when I would choose a different one I always felt left by the wayside. I was always trying to find my place in my family. Sometimes I feel I still do that. I am a people pleasing person, seeking attention and approval. My biggest problem in romantic relationships is not feeling supported by my boyfriend. That comes directly from my up bringing. I came from a good family but like all families we had our issues as a whole and as individuals.

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Brenda November 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

I also am a middle child.. What was said above is so true!!! I was born 2nd out of 4 but was the middle girl. Not the oldest, not the youngest but the middle. Sadly but it is true. In the middle you do get looked over. I went to on get BSN. I left the family and got married when 23. I had two children to prevent the middle child.

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 4:54 am

i have to say that is a pretty smart way to have looked at it! i have to say i would not have changed anything because, my older and younger sisters are useless to some degree, professionally they will never make it, they depend on my parents where i dont and they always say i hold too may things inside from the past….but funny i never treat others poorly usually its mean they are treating poorly and i just cut ppl off… emotionally tho im poor, and i would not change it because it gives me the drive to always want to be better, if that makes sense..

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Alanna November 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi, My name is Alanna and I am conducting research for my Community and Family Studies Major HSC Project; The Independent Research Project. I will be conducting research in attempt to find out whether Middle Child Syndrome (which is, feelings of being lost/ignored within a family) are indeed truth or fact. If you would kindly take the time to complete this survey, it would be very much appreciated. All responses will and shall remain confidential, and will be used as part of a school project. Thank you very much for your participation :

http://srvy.it/17OIFBn

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LureEndsCallIn October 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I’m the middle child in our family. I have one older brother and one younger brother. I’m the only girl. I mostly feel left out and inappropriate for everything.
I can’t easily open up to my parents. Whenever I try to, I end up getting reprimanded or corrected. When my other siblings do, they give their sincere advice. Every time they notice me, they would either reprimand me or make me feel so stupid.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always noticed how biased they were. It is quite disappointing at times. I confronted mom about it back then and it ended up in an argument that lead me to almost running away.
As for achievements, they seem to not notice mine and notice my brothers’. Because of that realization, I ended up screwing my educational life and goofed off during my first and second years in high school
I feel pressured at times. I overthink a lot too. There are times when I am soooooo depressed and I just can’t bring myself to speak to them. I feel like they won’t understand and take me seriously.
In school, I always ask my friends; am I annoying, am I ugly, am I a dimwit, am I irritating, etc…
Once, my friend confronted me and said, “You’re the only person I know who is too anxious about what people think of her.
Middle Child Syndrome is a real and horrible mental idea stuck with middle children including myself.

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:01 am

wow, i think you have a few things going on with you that is separated from the MCS. one for sure is that youre a teen going through teenage stuff ..acceptance is a form. but some of what you said is true as i am the middle child too and most often i feel like the way u do, i argue with my parents all the time, but i am conceded tho..but what i find interesting is that i over think and sometimes although my experience says im right i always second guess my self or decision when i know it is the right thing to do and sometimes listen to others and do poorly because i listened to them when i should have done what i knew was right. i hardly sleep because my brain is all over the place, i want do as much as i can in a day and sometimes ill go all night….i thought maybe you were the same

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Barb August 27, 2013 at 2:44 pm

quite an article & comments…I am a middle child, with 2 older sisters & 2 younger sisters…with about 2-3 yrs apart…the sister before me is 1yr 1 day older , her b-day is the 15th & mine is the 16th….all were married around 18-19 yrs old, all have been divorced & remarried & the 2 oldest are currently single…I never heard of this mid-child problem until I was into middle age….however, I have made my own first with my sisters….I married when I was 25 yrs, the only one to be a step-mother with 3 children (9- 11- 12 yrs),the first to be a grand-mother at 31…unfortunately, I am now a widow, thank GOD, I own my land & home, my truck is paid for, so I AM VERY BLESSED!!! I am also now a great- grand mother x 2!!!! I cannot ever imagine my life without my sisters!! EVER!! yes we do argue when we are all together, yes I do feel like I am always left out, but I live in florida & the live in Ohio, so it helps….my theory is, we spend time with our parents as children, but we spend much more time with our sibling’s…..my sisters made me who I am today & I them….maybe we are just closer than most…. we always have each others backs & we know our likes, dislikes, taste etc….we do not agree at all on lots of things, but that’s ok….sorry this is so long….

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Josh August 13, 2013 at 6:47 am

I guess I’m lucky, I didn’t have that many issues growing up in the middle. One of three boys, close enough in age that we were all in high school at the same time (Senior, Sophomore, Freshman). I will admit that my brothers were closer to each other back then, and I had a separate group of friends, but that’s because my older brother was the “leader”, and I was not willing to be lead, so I did my own thing instead. Of course, my older got the first crack at the family business, but when I showed the passion for it that he lacked, he was told to pick up the slack or get out of the way, which he did.
My father is the first of three boys, and his nose was kept to the grindstone while the youngers got away with everything, so his judgements were made on performance. He was the one who was never appreciated, even when he worked his guts out, It was just expected of him, and the youngers got the praise for everything. His love isn’t based on our performance, but he is objective when seeing who deserves the rewards for their labors. I assume this has helped me from having the problems associated with MCS. That, or the fact that I would rather take responsibility for my own actions than blame someone else for my problems. It’s how I was raised to be.

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:07 am

i agree with you, but as a result of this similarities i think it has me where i am today…if it were any different i would be who i am today. but like you i make my decisions stand by them 100 percent good or bad… but i think this is also do to having to grow up with the realistic attitude not the dream, my siblings are failures in a sense but had dreams and accept simplicity, where i am driven to want only the best and with do without until i can get exactly what i want! …but i liked your story man…i look at dedication drive and performance also

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k August 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I have an older brother and a younger sister. Definitely not an under achiever or and overachiever. But being gay definitely helps out the middle child syndrome (in the right family setting). The things that they experienced with my brother and sister are all rolled into one exciting middle child. But seriously middle children/adults shouldn’t resent our parents for having another child after us. As the middle child we have more option to live a free and fulfilling life. My brother was the guinea pig in an experiment gone wrong. My sister was never allowed to leave the house as she was considered the “baby”. As the middle child my parents knew what they were doing this time around but were too distracted by my little sibling to really stop me from having fun and living the way I wanted to. Being a middle child is really not that bad.

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DGripon August 3, 2013 at 9:21 am

With the exception of the drug abuse, I pretty fit the profile of a mid-kid. Very resentful and jealous in certain situations, very vocal, but hampered by lack of confidence in what I feel or do, low self esteem and the confusing thing to me is that some people do find me to be weird to them. I really don’t know what I is I do differently and all I can think of is I am a bit detached from people emotionally. When I say people, I mean coworkers and friends and family. My daughter and whomever I may be involved with I am very close to. I have completely cut my family from my life several years ago.
Even as the middle children, every situation is different and how the parents deal with things can intensify or minimize the impact. There are many variables in our lives and even the most basic things, such as: Gender, years of separation between siblings and even birth dates can add more weight to the burden of being placed in the middle.
People generally tend to see their own situation as worse than the other guys and I am no exception. Of course, I am the middle child like many of the other people reading this, but I do feel my family makeup made for a prime breeding ground for Middle Child Syndrome.
My brother is 1 year and 2 days older and my sister is 3 years and 3 months younger. My much more dominant, stronger, more aggressive brother and I had to share everything, including a bedroom, underwear, socks and yes, even a birthday and a cake. This may seem petty to some, but as a child, it is huge. Then to see how elaborate and tailored everything was for my sister, which carries on to this day, really shaped my personality in a more negative way.
Of course, as an adult, I must answer to my own actions and can’t point any fingers for my decisions or actions, as I do, but I can’t help but feel I was not equipped with all of the tools for independence as my siblings were.

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cageyh August 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Don’t even get me started on birthdays. My brother’s birthday is a week after mine. On my 15th, my mother said that it would be easier to just have a single birthday on the Saturday in between. It came and went. On my brother’s birthday we celebrated “both.” The cake said “Happy Brithday John.” Guess what my name is not? It was a beautiful cake – white icing. When we cut into it, the chocolate cake was exposed. Guess who, famously, does not like chocolate? Of course, I forgot about that a long time ago. Care to take a crack at my birth order?

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My Middle Child Theory August 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm

In my case, I am the middle male child with an older brother(2 yrs apart) and a younger sister(5 yrs apart). I have no distinguishing factor because I’m not the only boy, I’m not the youngest and I’m not the oldest. So when I was younger, I came up always felling like I didn’t stand out. Ive grown out of that feeling now but I have another theory about middle children.

I think that if you are a middle child of three AND you are the only one of a particular gender, then the middle child syndrome does not typically occur. I think this because if you are in the middle and you are the only one of a particular gender, then you now have a unique distinction to you.

Lets take this scenario for instance. A family has two girls and a boy, and the middle child is the boy. In this case, the oldest will always be the oldest, the youngest will always be the baby, and the middle child will always be the ONLY boy. Each child now has a distinguishing characteristic. Having that unique factor breaks the typical middle child syndrome because that middle child will forever stand out as being the only boy.

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I Disagree August 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I disagree as the only girl between two boys, I very much have middle child syndrom. I was the over achiever as it was the only way to get attention. I became detached through the years and found comfort/solace in things that were not good for me. Even at 35 years of age, I cry out for equality from my parents. Recently they redid their wall of photos and if my dad had his way, he would have put a bunch of my little brother’s high school band photos up. I asked them to make sure they put up an equal number of photos for each of us kids and the grandkids. They gave me a look but complied. My husband (a first born) thinks I’m nuts for thinking this way but middle kids have to speak out! This is why I stopped at two kids of my own, I don’t want to do this to my youngest.

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D July 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I tend to agree. I’m the middle child with a brother 2 years older and a sister 2 years younger. Everyone in my family has always liked my brother since he was the first everything (grandson, nephew, child, so on). My sister on the other hand is a drama queen. She cries over everything so a lot of attention is on her. I think recently it has gotten worse. My brother is getting married and my sister is pregnant. I feel I’m being overshadowed these events and I expect it to continue for years to come since my sister’s due date is around my birthday. I’ve always been the quiet, peace keeper in the family and I feel that I do lack emotional support. I’m often called cold-hearted by my family because I don’t show my emotions like my sister does.

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:11 am

lol…wow. dont worry i have the same expect issue..lol its all good you`ll be better off professionally then them you will do it on your own and they will need help, i see it as ppl seeing me as the stronger one where they have no need to look to help me because not matter what….they know i will do and be just fine in the end…everyone thinks im am cold hearted, crying in it self is something that dosent happen easy at all,,,;

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MiddleChild July 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Well, I can identify with working hard, some attention whore stuff, but never so much as drank alcohol, smoke, or even feel the slightest feelings of jealousy. older brother 5 years, younger sister 2 years. I am the most successful in the family so far…. but I idenitfy my humour with my siblings. However I’m generally apathetic. Peacemaker role and quiet in general/ go with the flow.

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jim slade July 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm

yep after years and years of being in the middle its come to the point where im a total paranoid wreck and finally realized why…great life

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middlechild August 2, 2013 at 10:11 am

I realise that this will probably be quite long and so I apologise in advance. I have 3 sisters – 2 older, 1 younger – my oldest is the smartest of us all, the one after her is the golden child who is perfect all the time, and the youngest is the spoilt, whereas I’ve always been the screw up. My marks were exceptional but then when I told my parents, they couldn’t care less, “your sisters would have done better if they’d been given the chance” they said or “not now! Can’t you see I’m speaking with your sister about her results?!” Mainly though they just ignored everything I said. I stopped paying attention in my classes and misbehaving, the teachers asked me “why are you doing this, neither of your sisters have? You need to be more like them or you’ll be in a lot of trouble with me little miss” I was depressed. Then when I went to secondary we moved house and I had to leave all my friends. I joined not knowing anyone and I was outcast because of it. Also I was constantly called my sisters names, I had lost my identity to be replaced by theirs. I acted out to try to get attention but it didn’t work. I became unsociable and rude. I pulled away from everyone else and became very violent. I tried to runaway multiple times but no time was a success. I got ill a lot as a child when I hit 12 but I was accussed of faking and so had to suffer in silence. I remember getting in trouble for doing everything – even when I hadn’t done it – I was usually no where near the place when the incident occurred and yet my oldest sister always blamed me and I was severly punished. My mum & dad used to scream at me often for these things and my only escape was when I walked down to the park. Unfortunatley I found it quite difficult to walk as I got a lot of cramps and so I was stuck indoors while I was moaned at to leave by my sisters and believe me, I wanted to. I ended up never letting people know when I was hurting inside or out, I was like rock, a heart of ice. I really needed someone there to help me, but no one was and that made me completly self-concious, jealous, violent, mean, unreachable, unsociable and have very low self esteem. I doubt it can get better, but I sincerely hope it will. I feel at a new low in life. As if I am spiralling into the darkness, parts of me falling and I fear I will never be myself again. I changed myself to make it so I would fit in more and I am criticed for it daily. I am sick of being compared to my sisters as I have lived in their shadow my whole life, and I am nothing like them, and I have no wish to be. Yet my mother, father and teachers all compare me to them. My friends all say I need to stop comparing myself to them, but as everyone around me does it I have begun to too. Its ruining my life and I’m finding it hard to believe that some day I won’t be in their shadow – I just know it won’t happen. I’ll probably end up a junkie and die before my time having wasted myself.
I want you all to know that having the chance to tell someone this has helped me a lot and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all.

Forever,
The screw up xxx

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thatotherkid August 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I know how you feel. I grew up with 3 specials surrounding me and have always felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. An older sister, the firstborn, obviously the cream of the crop! Always been compared to her and I am not much like her.
An older brother, the ONLY SON, (a namesake for my dad’s brother who died from polio when he was 12) He has been extra extra special and doted on from entire extended family as well as immediate family.
Then there is me, the middle girl, nothing special.
Then we have the baby of the family, the princess, nicknamed “Buffy”, spoiled and ga-ga ed over from all sides. I even had to let her take my toys when we were young. To this day, she seems to think everything is hers.
I was given a demeaning nickname that my uncle and father still call me after 45 years! I finally told them it really bothered me and cried telling my uncle that, and a couple months later he called me it again! It’s like they enjoy hurting my feelings.
I have never felt “special” unless it was in a negative way. I started drinking when I was 18 and hanging out with other drinkers and pot smokers and they accepted me for just being me! I was never so happy to get out of the house after graduating from high school. I spent the next 33 years relying on alcohol and drugs to feel “ok” or to not feel at all.
I cut my family out of my life and do not trust them. I have a lot of resentments towards my family for treating me the way they did. I know they didn’t know any better, but that doesn’t change the way I feel. Being an adult now, it is up to me to get past my resentments for my own sanity!
I am in alcohol and drug recovery now, and I am finding that a lot of middle child characteristics made me extremely susceptible to mood altering drugs. I would do anything to feel better, to not care, to hide my feelings, to forget my feelings, to survive feelings. It has been all about feelings, for me and I have spent my drinking years covering them up. Now I feel like a big cry baby like my baby sister, and that I really hate!
The hardest thing about being an alcoholic (as a middle child) was to ask for and admit that I needed help! I spent my whole life being tough, not needing anyone, being self sufficient, and feeling and making myself an outsider!
Wow…

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Noel Dizon July 23, 2013 at 11:21 pm

This is an informative and interesting article, as to most readers are likely the middle child of their families I to am a middle child in the family of 7. Ever since I can remember I was the middle even before my youngest brother was born in 2003, everything I did was not good enough in the eyes of my parents so I tried to be spontaneous and loud just so I am noticed. But it did not went as planned so in my teenage years I became quiet, a loner, trying to get through high school. That meant that I didn’t have many friends and even no best friends until today, I try to focus on my work and be able to get recognition, its true that we (I meant all the middle children that read this) are artistic and creative that I especially work well being alone.

There is also one characteristic that I would like to mention as in my personal experience: I would say that middle children are truly considering in cases as helping your younger brother with their homework, or that middle children are to support the family in such subtly and discretion in our means to keep it to you selves and that our patience is really high when it comes to being scolded at, etc. Also, at time that we experience random short-burst of negativity towards others as a way to suppress our true emotions.

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Ted July 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I am a middle child, but there is a big age gap. Boy – boy – girl. My brother is 5 years older than me, but I am 12 years older than my sister. So, for most of my childhood, I was the youngest. But, since I was just another boy, all my achievements were less impressive than my brother’s. Secondly, since my brother pursued certain interest and subjects, especially in science, I was pushed into the same. Despite the fact that science and math were not my strong subjects.

When my sister was born, my brother headed off to college, while I was expected to look after her – bathing, feeding, diaper changes – the whole thing. I did not mind though, she was a great kid, and now at age 28, she is a terrific woman and a close friend.

But, my job is a dead end, and it is understood, if not vocally expressed, that I will be the caregiver in my parents’ old age. Consequently, whatever professional ambition I may have had in my younger days was extinguished. Never been married, and never had a real girlfriend either. Women are not interested in me, and the more they find out, they more they stay away.

Family and society still expect me to approach the world with enthusiasm and hope for a brighter tomorrow. When I need to go shopping for such greeting card sentiments, I’ll stop by Hallmark.

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Becca September 10, 2013 at 3:04 am

Perhaps its the middle child in me..but I get it..I have difficulty in relationships when it comes to actually relating..I’m divorced and a single mom now and realize that I prolly didn’t help my marriage any with all the baggage I was carrying. I wouldn’t talk about my issues much at first with him and over the years I got so comfortable I guess I over vented. Then when my family (siblings) took me in as a roommate I was so relieved that finally we could have an adult friendship with each other that I must of forgotten why I use to never talk about my shit before…Because I’m expected to shut up and walk on egg shells. Be helpful in the background and get bs thank you’s but the moment I show I’m tired or flustered I’m being rude and ungrateful…They don’t understand why I’m negative and they think I’m being fake when I’m being kind…so yea hallmark…for the win..

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:16 am

the same also….

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Ben July 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Haha, I actually posted a comedy sketch about being the Middle Child. If you fancy a giggle check it out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhzHdxf9c_w

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Matthew July 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

I am a Middle brother with an older brother, and a younger brother. I love both of them and allow them to be dominant over me. I play jazz trumpet and feel that this is the way out of my situation. Plus, i got a handyman job and i am blessed for that. I feel that Middle child guys like me should be handymen because it is healthy!

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dp June 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

This article describes my family exactly. I wish I would have known years ago so I could have changed some of my perspectives on how I feel about myself.

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Rish Vaishnav June 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Great article, I am a middle child, and I could relate to almost everything in it. But I think you forgot one important thing: from my experience, it’s not only the parents who are guilty of playing favorites. People in general tend to favor the oldest and youngest siblings, leaving out the middle child.

I am 16 years old, and I will be in my junior year of high school next year. I have an older brother who is three years older than me and just left last year for college. He has a very friendly and charismatic personality, and last year was probably one of the most popular boys in school. Although I am significantly stronger than he was academically, I am a much more quiet and shy person than him, I have hardly as many friends as he did, and I definitely have much lower self esteem than him. Around people I don’t know, especially girls, I am shy and awkward, and perhaps worst of all, people constantly compare me to my older brother. One time at school, someone who was friends with my brother asked me if I was his little brother. I told her I was. “That’s cool,” she said. “You look like him. I love your brother, he’s really awesome!” Although I knew she was just being friendly, it actually made me feel terrible, because, if she thought that my brother was awesome, what would that make me? Another time, after performing at a school jazz band concert one night, I was talking to a friend, when someone came up to me and asked me plainly, “Why can’t you be more like your brother, Rish?” This time, it made me feel like complete shit. I felt like I could never fit into a world where there would always be someone who everyone thinks is better than me, someone who I could always be compared to.

I’m posting this here because I hope that there’s someone out there who’s kind of in the same boat as I am, with an older sibling that not only your parents, but people who aren’t even in your family compare you to. I think just knowing that I’m not alone would make me feel so much better.

Thanks.

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Aaron June 17, 2013 at 10:21 am

I’m also a middle child in my family with 2 other siblings, older sister and one younger brother..

My sister will always gets all the praise from my parents and she will also be respected as she is the role model for all of his little brothers..

My younger brother is the youngest one. He’s definitely getting all the attention and being spoiled by my parents so much, especially by my father.. and he never get scold even once..

Me, on the other hand.. My family is my battleground for real.. I struggled for the whole 17 years to earn the respect and care from my parents which I never received at all..
Despite of all the certificates that I achieved in my childhood.. My father never once looked up to me, even though my brother never gets any certificate / trophy at all..
Being abused, being a sandbag for my father since I was small, being the blaming objects for my brother’s fault, being accused of stealing my brother’s items, being scold if my brother cried.. Somehow I had develop a self-control and will never gets easily mad towards people after I had gone through hell since my childhood..
Well obviously, there’s a part in this article which is true though.. I became a very low-esteem person and gets jealous really easily.. I’m a rebellious person & didn’t like to befriend with all people cause I don’t trust anyone easily and because of that, I only had a few true friend..
Yes, it is also true in the part which stated that you’ll feel so hollow and empty.. I too, feel like I’m alone in this world cause no one will understand me. Despite that they say that, ohh.. I’m sorry to hear your story, but cheer up, ok :) ? ( my brain will unconsciously say this to myself.. wtf are you talking about ? like you think that it could ease up my pain ? )
Maybe it is because that I wanted to tell to my parents for so long even until now.. But.. I just couldn’t say it to them.. It’s like I’m carrying my own coffin everywhere but I couldn’t tell what’s inside of it to my parents..

Sorry for taking your time guys.. I just wanna share up my story.. I’m Aaron, 19 yrs old guy.

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NathanC June 14, 2013 at 2:17 am

I just typed a whole paragraph of text describing my “middle child symptoms” but I decided to DELETED IT. I want to share my suggestions and hope this helps a little bit. Simple background about me, YES, I am the middle child. One older brother and one younger sister. I just turned 30. My suggestion for middle child including my self.

BE A LITTLE BIT MORE SELFISH AND STRAIGHT FORWARD

This sounds kind of evil, but it is really hard for the middle child to do. I think middle child always have a hard time being selfish because we are taught to sacrifice once the youngest are born. Middle child tend to do things for people to get their approval then bitch about it afterward. I do it all the time. I think that’s where the jealousy and bitterness comes from. I have a close friend that is also the middle child with almost the same symptoms.

Good Luck !!!

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Mike August 3, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I agree. It is of the utmost importance for the middle child, suffering in adulthood, to realize why it is that they feel the way they do. My belief is that middle children tend to want to be people pleasers because they did not receive the support they needed when younger. It is important for them to put themselves first. This means health, feelings, everything. This must go on for sometime, until the individuals self esteem is returned to them. This doesn’t mean they have to withdraw completely, but it is important, I believe, that the adult middle child ensure that his or her self esteem come first in order for true healing to happen.

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:13 am

thats exactly how i am , and at work too… it works! same issues tho, and im about your age im 35 now

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Haleigh June 11, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I agree with this completely!! I always feel like everyone hates me and my family never cares about me!!! Thankyous for this!!!

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Kat June 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I am also a middle child of three with a older sister and a younger brother and I found this really interesting because I can really relate to everything said in this article.

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S.Johnson June 4, 2013 at 1:45 am

I’m also a middle child and i also found this article interesting because i feel like some of these theories are true but with us 4 kids the oldest(my sister ) and youngest(my brother) have the same bullhead esness and knows everyone and makes friends easily plus never knows when to shut up. as for the second oldest child(older brother) and i are alike quiet knows when to shut up and aren’t true friend makers we keep to ourselves. Another thing i always wondered about was birth time. My sister was born 429am my brothers after noon one 430pm and 629 pm i was the only night baby 10:13pm my sister is a morning person my brothers and i are afternoon people. I tried to work on the am shift at work but it was like Dracula working it. I’d just doze off and wham the alarm would be blaring for a few minutes before i’d grugenly crawl out of bed and have to turn it off, then wanting to go back to bed. so thats another theory thats interesting to me also

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D.K. June 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm

It’s true, all of it. I’m a middle child with two above and two below, and all the years of being ignored, unrecognized, brushed off and compared takes its toll. I am about to be 23 years old and have been slowly taking control of my life since I was 18, and my work is paying off. Don’t get me wrong though, I still have a lot of deep-set issues, but as long as I don’t dwell on them and force myself to keep moving forward and thinking positively, trying new things daily, my life and outlook improves. Just eat a lot of dark chocolate and keep smiling, because when it comes down to it, we’re the solid rock that can be built on!

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tc June 2, 2013 at 5:45 am

I’m a middle child and have found all these stories very interesting. I will admit that I fit many of the bad things that the middle child seems to have but I excelled in many positive ways. One thing that I know for sure is my parents , bother, and sisters treated with love. My family were always my biggist fans and supported me and still do in every positive and good thing I ever did or will ever do.

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Good Grief! June 2, 2013 at 4:12 am

As a psychology major, you are aware that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V of the American Psychiatric Association was released 2 weeks ago, the first update in 19 years. You must be aware that ‘ Middle Child Syndrome’ is NOWHERE to be found within it. There may be some stereotypical personality traits common among children who are neither the alpha or the omega, but that does not in any way constitute any type of syndrome or disorder.

As a psych major, are you aware how grandiose and narcissistic it is to create a disorder where there isn’t one in order to feel ‘special’ and less responsible or less guilty about one’s dysfunctional personality traits by blaming them on others rather than making a concerted effort to CHANGE?

Not everything is a disorder. You really are okay just like you are. If someone tells you that is not the case, it seems they have a problem, not you. YOU should work on your analytical skills and stereotyping less, however. “Middle children are also usually considered outcasts in their families and often develop a condition called Middle Child Syndrome.” Nowhere but in your imagination are middle children considered outcasts. That’s utterly ludicrous. ‘ . . . often’ develop MCS . . . what does that mean, given that MCS doesn’t exist? I truly believe promoting imaginary craziness is NOT a good use of your skills and you will be much happier a year from now if you discontinue this drivel IMMEDIATELY!

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Gary June 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

Hi there, you have a good point. I’m also a bit skeptical about middle child syndrome or whatever it’s called. Although I think the author is using the common term found online, which is ‘middle child syndrome’. I’m not stereotyping or anything, but I think middle children do tend to get less attention/support (due to birth order/family roles) than the first or last child, don’t you agree? So if that’s the case, then it IS more likely for them to develop psychological problems? Correct me if I’m wrong.

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Aaron June 17, 2013 at 10:26 am

either you are the first / the last child in the family or the only child.. people like you won’t understand these issues..

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Cedrick February 8, 2014 at 10:16 pm

You are just plain wrong. You give credence to a text book written by people who probably have no personal experience, while ignoring the testimony of those who claim to suffer from the affliction. Authors cannot teach what they don’t yet know. You will probably be a very poor psychologist. If your patient’s affliction doesn’t appear in text, you’ll claim it doesn’t exist. Today, we know so much more about mental issues than we did 10 years ago. Imagine what we may know in another 10 years. There’s still time for you to choose a different career. Do us middle children a favor, and apply at McDonald’s.

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Guest June 10, 2013 at 7:38 pm

You must be the baby of the family.

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Just saying... July 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Typical psycho babble from someone who’s a student and not licensed. What is it with “psychology majors” that they feel the need and are motivated to ‘diagnose’ and spout THEIR beliefs/diagnoses before they’re even qualified? (You don’t find pre-med MDs diagnosing patients–online, no less–before THEY’RE licensed. Against the law, actually!) You’re probably a first born! So full of themselves, always right, and it’s their way or the highway. Talk about narcissism! Me,me,me–or should I say you,you,you!

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Mike August 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Well, I am also a student of psychology as well. I certainly hope you do not look to counsel people for you have succeeded here in invalidating the feelings of the majority of the individuals here. There are several developmental theories that can be challenged, but your tone is totally improper considering the fact that there are several people who suffer from a for of neglect that many times has to do with poor parenting that occurs when a child in the middle is treated differently because the nature of that family dynamic. I find it poor form on your part to invalidate a theory that has decades of support, both anecdotal and academic. Keep studying, but please do us all a favor and do not practice.

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thatotherkid August 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Good Grief,
I think that as middle children we represent the bulk of posts here. I think it is great that we can relate to one another and share our common feelings of “not belonging” in the family dynamic. Just because this “syndrome” isn’t in the journals of today does not mean it isn’t relevant OR unreal. Middle children typically do not share feelings or confidences. This could explain the lack of attention we get in ANY form, psychologically, from our families, friends, relatives and so on.
You didn’t say where you are in your family birth order…

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:35 am

you know for a smart person youre kind of dumb, in a smart way! i get what you are saying but you are probably north american, reading case studies of north american Caucasian ..lol.

i actually agree with you wholeheartedly , but looking back the education system makes me think that youre kind of funny because you have not read this in a book or something but yet you believe other nonsense articles or labels the north american or specifically white people have made up. my first and only language was english, but the teacher thought because i was quiet that i could speak properly.., when i was exceeding in my classes the teachers told my parents not to teach me because i was getting bored in class….my point is regardless if it is a made up fact, you teaching says that when kids are beaten they grow to beat people up or they have anger issues…lol, and you believe that…but reading these people the similarities should have a smart person like thinking of an opportunity to uncover similarities in people that you can further research. im probably the dumbest guy you will ever meet, but you wasted your education, you should have just done what i did….we both ended up with the same ignorance. there is an opportunity here, identify it and do your educational duty ans see past your book, because at some point everything you learned in a book was in the minds of people just like the ones who have posted there own thoughts feelings, similarities and you are just blowing them off like fools, well these fools have made your profession real…the world really doesnt really need shrinks, all they do rationalize from cases studies and relate personalities based on what they feel is classified by numbers…..people in your area of study usually grew up with everything, had everything and parents created everything….but of course im the less smarter one what do i know!

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Daisy Williams May 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm

My name is Daisy, i am 15 years old and live with my father, mother and little sister, Polly. My older sister, Billie, lives in Bristol with her boyfriend.

My older sister is 25 and my younger sister is 10. My older sister is my half sister, when my mother (aged 26 at the time) split up with her ex-husband her and Billie (aged 2 at the time) moved back to their home town in England and met my father (aged 21 at the time).
They moved to a small island in Scotland, they were very poor and they lived in a small cottage in the middle of nowhere. Eight years later, i was born. When i was but 6 months old, my mother decided to go to college so she moved back to her home town. She stayed for four years. When i was two, my older sister started going to high school which, because she lived on an island, meant she had to go stay in a hostel on the main land during the week, so i only saw her at weekends.
Me and my father were alone on an island in a cottage miles from any one else, no support or money and very little food for about 4 years. Until my mother came back from finishing her college degree, but only 6 months after she came back she fell pregnant with my little sister, Polly.

When Polly was two (when i was 7) we moved house then for 5 years after that we were almost constantly moving house, struggling with money the entire time (a few times we became homeless and had to sleep in a tent) until finally we found a lovely house in a small village. Both my parents got full time jobs and by that time Billie was living in Bristol and i had started high school, which meant leaving home to stay in the hostel and coming back on weekends.

At the age of thirteen i got a job in a cafe every Friday evening and every Saturday. I only saw my mum and dad on a Sunday.
This year i got a new job in a restruant on Friday evenings Saturdays and Sundays. I don’t really see my family any more.

Yet, my mother and father refuse to believe that i have not been given less attention than my other siblings. Because my mother was away for the first 4 years of my life i never really knew her and then Polly came along which meant she got all the attention.

I just feel a bit left out sometimes and want to talk to people about it, but i can’t talk to my parents because they don’t think anything is wrong.

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Vivi June 22, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Hey Daisy, I’m sorry to hear that. If you ever feel like you need someone to talk to I’ll be willing to listen.
Stay strong girl :)

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rishi February 12, 2014 at 5:44 am

here you think at time you have it hard, but you kind of had it harder…what a story, im 35 and as bad as i could have had it, i never had it where it was like that, ……wow how old are you now and what are you doing. i would really like to hear more!! very interesting, although we live in totally different cultures and lifestyle is very different…

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Nathalie May 17, 2013 at 10:33 am

I know exactly what this is all about. I am the middle child, with a year and a half older brother and a 7 year younger sister. When my sister was born,she was very sickly, the first year more in hospital than out and once nearly dead too when she was a few months. That made her even more the “baby of the family”. My brother on the other hand,is something different.Not at all the leader and stuff.No, he left the house 8 years ago because he was not allowed to smoke pod in the house and because he made debts he was not paying back…he left the house and also left the debt (mind you €40.000) with my parents. It always fell to me to help in the household, help pay the bills, food, rent, gas, etc. But after all those years (I am turning 27 in July) I have always felt I was more their bank than their daughter. Because I have always had to help pay for life, I am still living at home (never having the opportunity to save money and move out). I also never get to do the things I want, and I not always follow through with what I want, because I never get any support. Whenever I want to do something, my parents never say “oh wow, yeah that is just your thing! Tell us about it” no I get the “why would you want to do that?” or just a “oh that’s nice”. That has made me loose my will to pursue my dreams and that is not what I want. I will soon finally be able to move out so hopefully I will get back to pursuing my dreams.
My sister is the “perfect” child in their eyes, because I am not thin or pretty (yes I have very low self-esteem but I also mean pretty in the “common” way) and I have no boyfriend (nor the desire to) Even the household always falls to me. I work 8 hours a day cleaning at people’s houses, and then I come back here and I have to clean other people’s mess again, while my sister is going away to her boyfriend. Or when he is here, they are just always upstairs and out of sight. My sister and I can sit on the couch together, if something needs to be done it’s always my name that comes up. Never hers. Another example: my sister was downstairs with the rest of the family and her boyfriend, and I was upstairs. I was being called down to feed the dogs…while everyone else was just sitting about downstairs already. Those are the daily things in my life. The only good thing is, is that I am so much more independent than my sister and well, my brother sort of doesn’t exist anymore (haven’t seen him since he left the house) My sister never cleans up after herself, and right now, after all those years, things are getting out of control for me, my fuse is every so short and so is my temper. I count myself lucky that I have a strong will and mind, I think many would have gone nuts. I keep it to myself. I am indeed a loner, I like being alone in my room watching TV. When I am around people for long, then after a while it becomes too much and I go upstairs.
But you know what is worst of all: that my parents just don’t want to admit it. Every time I get into one of my moods again because something happened that day that send me over the edge there is “the conversation” and even more worse (yes still possible) and the thing that pisses me off the most is when I do have one of those moods they go “is there something wrong?” Fucking hell, I am sorry, but what kind of parent are you if you can’t even see something is seriously wrong with your child (ever or at that particular moment)! They only ask that because I am being curt in answering and don’t talk at all. I have told them 1000′s of times what they need to do to change but nope…and then they say kids don’t listen.
Wow, I could go on and on here, but I won’t. And also know that I am not just complaining, it’s just an opportunity to vent and let it out. But if you think the story sounds bad, multiply that and you get the real idea.

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plainjane May 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Natalie ………get out of that house……..you are 27 years old. Find a way……..there is a way.
Realize your parents are never going to change……….just think when you are not there to clean up after them……..what a mess the house is going to be in…..HA..

Disappear from your family’s life…….and you will be better off for it.

Work on some type of education to secure a better paying job …. however it seems you always have had money to help them out.

Seek out a church to help you……….

Please for your own preservation.

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Nathalie June 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I actually am getting out of the house. My (what we call here) vacation money is coming in, in July (you get that every year. They calculate how many days off that year you’ll get and get paid according to it). I am currently looking for a job in the UK or Ireland as I want to move so much. I have always said “I don’t want to live here” I mean The Netherlands (nor Belgium) has ever been my home.
When I move there, I can get a better job :) I just have to wait a little longer. Well I should get the money in July but have to wait till I find a job of course ;) I hope to be gone within 3 months, fingers crossed it will that fast or even faster.

I know that my parents won’t like it, but I just don’t give a shit anymore. All my life I have been looking after others and trying to please them but no more.

And about the money: the thing is, I have the money, if I just didn’t have to pay up every month. You know, I have a 15000 euro student load to pay back. Now, they are busy with an attorney (too complicated and long to explain) so I should be getting that money back, but probably not for another 3 or 4 years. And from the “small amount” they still owe me around 1800 euro’s. But the problem is, every time I get paid (which is twice a month, I hate that) something pops up.

But you see, that “vacation money” will come in all at once, and I will withdrawal that from my account and put it somewhere where no one can touch it. That is my “going abroad money”

As for seeking out a church, you will not find a bigger atheist in terms of believing in God and what not, than me. But no worries, my best friend does the trick ;)

Thanks for the reply though, sorry I didn’t reply back sooner, I forgot to “favorite” this page and it got lost.

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freenow June 1, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Nathalie, RUN! You are responsible for YOUR happiness, YOUR bills, etc….you are not responsible to make anyone else happy, If you have enough money to support your parents, your sister and your self, you certainly have enough money to support just yourself. If you are still paying your brothers debts QUIT! Your story is almost exactly mine, only I am 30 years older than you. I had the courage to break away from this insanity only a few months ago. All of my money went to my family’s business. My pay is over $250,000.00 in arrears. In addition I have lent the business almost as much. Needless to say I have no retirement money. On his deathbed I promised my Father that I would look after my Mother. Now she is living with me. So i still get to hear the negative whining and how no good I am and how mean and snotty I am. However now I only have to hear the B.S. a few hours a day instead of all day long everyday. I use it as a daily affirmation that i did the right and correct thing by leaving the family business. My sister got a bed to put in the business office so she could sleep and when she wasn’t sleeping she was playing games on the computer, which I needed to do much of the book work involved, Mother did puzzles and read. I would get told off for wanting to use the computer to conduct business, after all my sister was playing a game. How dare I interupt her. Whenever anyone needed assistance they would bellow at me to go wait on the customer. Never mind that my unpaid job was to clean, dust, wash windows, repair and assemble product, answer the phone, wait on customers, the bookkeeping, buying product to sell, ordering customer orders, tracking customer orders, doing service calls,maintain the website, purchase food with my own money and cook it for them. It was never good enough, fast enough, nice enough etc…. (this has been great therapy).
Nathalie, don’t ask them, don’t tell them, just arrange for your life away from them. The’ll be mad, don’t pay attention to the “hurt” feelings and the insults they will hurl at you. They have just lost their maid, slave and moneybags. You will have gained the freedom to live the rest of your life as you please! Find some real friends and don’t ever let anyone use you again in your life. Good luck to you Nathalie! Don’t wait another 30 years to see if it might get better. Trust me….it will never get better for you, until you leave and make your own life for yourself!

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freenow June 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm

One more thing. Mother changed the family trust that she set up with my Father. She promised my Father that she would never change it. Guess what, she changed it the day after I left the family business. I was slave labor there since I was a little kid. I will not inherit a penny. I won’t let that ruin the rest of my life. I am now and forever free:)!

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Nathalie June 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

thanks you “freenow” for the reply. First of all, I am sorry to hear your story.

As you can read in my reply to another post, I am currently looking for a job abroad, so once I find one, I am out! And it will be far enough away from the family. The only downside is my grandmother. She’s the only 1 left and being 85, she can’t just come and visit me when I move to the UK or Ireland. She can never come and see “my new place” the one thing I hate. You see, my nan is the only one who sees what is going on and she hates it that she can’t do anything about it. She always makes me feel a bit better by complimenting me on what I want or did…although obviously she doesn’t like me going away. I haven’t mentioned recently that that is still the plan. Thankfully the UK/Ireland is not that far away, so I can still fly out to visit her (it’s a 1 or 2 hour flight, depending somewhat on where I go and live)

The only good thing that ever came out of being a middle child is that I am in no way dependent on others! My sister is, I am not. Being on my own does not scare me, quite the opposite actually. And it made me more adventurous in many ways.

I am glad that you got away too! Eases my mind a bit ;) I will keep you posted on what might happen soon!
Thanks again. And good luck to you too!

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over achiever May 15, 2013 at 10:33 am

I’m 44 yrs old, the #2 sibling of 4. My parents were always loving, supportive, and dedicated. A recent identity crisis of birth order was brought on by the loss of my mom. I’m not the first born, the only boy, or the baby girl. I have never had self doubt before. Now I realize that I’ve always tried too hard and have always been an over achiever. While our family remains close and supportive, I see my siblings from a different perspective. I have been, and will continue to be, the most supportive child to my parents (again, the try too hard bit). If my parents and other siblings have been happy with rare and extravigant visits, who am I to judge. I have a great career, a blessed family of my own, and a life of peace that comes with faith. So why am I crying on the inside like a self-pitty-freak?

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Lizibet June 2, 2013 at 7:43 am

Dear Over Achiever – I am so sorry about your Mom’s death. My mom died in March, 2010, and it is the hardest loss I have experienced. I really think your feelings are normal, given what has happened. Time will help, but daughters’ relationships with their mothers are probably the most significant bonds in our lives. Our moms are the original source of our own knowledge, wisdom, and strength. If you are like I am, even in your forties, you probably still talked to your mom when you felt blue – not about what was bothering you, necessarily, but just to connect with your “external” source of strength. But now you can rely only on yourself, and that it scary at the start.
I am a middle kid, too, and a classic over-achiever (academically, career-wise, etc.). I feel overly responsible for others – I want to “fix” things that go wrong. My siblings each live over a thousand miles from my parents’ home. I live within a half days’ drive. Although I have MS and travel is now very hard, I am the kid who visited often to be sure that our parents were doing O.K. Does this sound familiar? We are MIDDLE CHILDREN. This is part of who you are (and who I am) as much as our genetic make-up.
You cry on the inside because you are an amazing person with huge amounts of love and talent to give, and your mom did not seem to know about it. She probably seemed so wrapped up in the other kids that you feel like your contributions were invisible or not appreciated, and maybe – as a result – that she never really knew how much you loved her. (I could be wrong, but this is sure what I dealt with…) Please look in your heart, though, and realize that even though we are middle children, we are not forgotten children. Before my mom died, she told me she was so grateful to have me because I was such a happy baby, an easy going kid, smart and self-reliant. She told me how hard it was to be 22 years old with 3 children under three years old, including one (my brother, the oldest) who screamed all the time. She said what a joy it was to watch me succeed in high school, college, and grad school with so little help from my parents, since the other two were so needy and so much work. And she said it may have felt like I was being ignored, but I was being admired. This was a huge gift to me, as I did feel like nothing I did was good enough (until then). I’m betting your mom admired you in the same way. May you find peace and strength, my middle kid sister.

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Bekki-Lynne May 14, 2013 at 5:50 am

Fuck You! I have been struggling for years about what the hell was wrong with me, why I felt I didn’t deserve attention, why I felt I needed to do well in school, why I’m so fucking introverted and you just go and spell it out as if it is something everyone already knows. Gaaaahhh!

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Vivi June 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

There’s nothing wrong with introversion (despite non-shy extroversion being the ideal temperament in most Western cultures) perhaps you are confusing this with shyness or social anxiety?

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Pam May 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

As a middle child, I understood that my older brother (handicapped) and my baby brother would get more attention. Somehow, this never bothered me. And miraculously, I’ve never been hospitalized for being an emotional wreck. I’m sorry to hear that middle children are traumatized adults because of their birth order. However, I think that self esteem can certainly be gained from within. It saddens me that everytime someone has issues, there is a label that is slapped onto it. Middle child syndrome. I think you will find similar feelings of kids by polling a classroom- who feels they are not the teacher’s favorite? Who feels they are ignored by their coach? Come on folks! Personalities play a huge part in this. There’s a lot to be said for middle children. They are high achievers. Is it because they fight harder for their parents’ attention or is it because they simply have more drive in them? Are they more outgoing than their older sibling? Maybe their parents are professionals and they wanted to follow their footsteps? Middle children are typically more humorous- who cares if it’s because they were trying to get attention?! Everyone likes a great sense of humor. Middle kids get to learn from the older sibling’s mistakes. They see how parents react to the older’s actions & they then can devise better plans! They also get great hand-me-downs! Not only clothes, but my middle got my older daughter’s ipod when the older one got a better ipod, laptop, phone, etc. And that’s bad…why??? With regard to the article’s reference to psychotic behavior, low self esteem, etc., I would have to believe that many more variables play into this type of behavior: personality, possible abuse, poor parenting, physical or mental health issues, economic status, learning disabilities, or other factors. Not to say that there aren’t middle kids feeling left out- I’m sure there are. There may also be older or younger siblings who feel the same way. My point is, before blaming all problems on birth order, get to the true issue so it can be addressed. I see this all the time in my office- parents blaming their child’s behavior on this issue, or ADHD, or bipolar. I refuse to slap a label on the kid. Instead, we focus on the real issues & address them. I hope that all kids, in whatever birth order they are, find what makes them thrive- & roll with it! Good luck everyone!!!

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Lizibet June 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

While I think you make a good point that birth order is not the decisive factor in whether one will lead a happy and productive life, to ignore the effects of it entirely, as if it were not a “true issue” in itself, ignores a very real situation. Your (adult) response is a typically middle child one in many respects — you explain why you did not merit the same attention as your older, handicapped sibling and intellectualize away any feeling you might have about your younger brother. My guess is that your feelings might not have been so sanguine when you were a child or a teen.

While it’s true that there may be “more important” issues to deal with for adults who raise kids, I wonder how your middle child feels about receiving left-over, used clothing, iPod, laptop, or whatever from her older sibling when the older sibling gets new items. From a kid’s perspective, this IS an important issue that reflects on self-esteem, feelings of worth/being valued, etc. It is exactly this kind of “second position” reality that affects middle children as they grow into adulthood. Consider, too, the time and attention that is expended in acquiring new items (versus handing down the old), and you see another disparity in time spent with a first child and time spent with a middle. It’s quite a pervasive issue that has impacts in many areas – enough that I might consider it worthy of inclusion in the big issues to consider.

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Tammy May 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I understand you Ally. Like you I am an October baby and eleven years old.The only different thing is my siblings are 6 years apart from each other. I’m always feeling left out (Except when my sister goes some where else). The only place that I ever get attention is at school or when my grandpa visits. Sometimes that’s still not even the case. My siblings do things Purposely to get me in trouble. When They do things some how I am the cause of it. So basically our whole scenario is the same.

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Pau May 8, 2013 at 7:32 am

OMG. Every bit is sooo accurate to me, that I cried while reading this. OMG. What can I do about it?

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Lived it. Overcame it. May 8, 2013 at 12:10 am

Yes, I was a middle child and I too experienced a lot of the same issues growing up. I had feelings of never being good enough even though I excelled at a lot of things more so than my older or younger sibling. My older brother was popular my little sister socially awkward and quite “bitchy” to be frank. She got away with everything and never had to do anything. My brother has Type 1 diabetes so he needed a lot of extra care and attention. He was very popular in school, he was a senior when I was a freshman. But my brother was an underachiever, barely made it through high school not because he isn’t bright but because he was more concerned with football and drugs and parties. I was the high achiever, graduating in the top of my class currently doing my undergrad to be pharmaceutical scientist. I remember beaming handing my parents a report card with the lowest mark being a 97/100 and my mother actually scolded me because the 97 had dropped from a 99 and said nothing positive about it. My brother handed in his report card 10 minutes later and for the first time in his life got an 80 average meaning honor roll. My parents were thrilled, they went on about how proud they were and gave him 10 dollars. I had never gotten an average less than a 95 (high honor roll) and never got squat. I asked why he gets money for honor roll when I’m always on high honor roll and I never get anything (including recognition). My mom laughed and said if we paid you every time you made high honors we’d go broke and dismissed me going back to praising my brother. My sister is well quite sensitive, depressed, strange, and just plain mean and harsh. Anytime we fought I was in trouble and not her because “I’m older and I know better” I had the feelings of being unloved. I felt that nothing I did was ever good enough for my parents. I had the emptiness that black hole that I felt consumed me when I was young. I didn’t have the faintest idea of who I was. But I taught me so much. From a young age I took care of myself and hated asking for help from anyone. My family thought I was not going to be too bright because I am blonde and have ditzy tendencies but I excelled at school. I had a love/hate relationship with my mom who has her fair share of issues. We constantly fought and I was constantly being insulted by her and cussed out and grounded starting around the age of 8. I developed this notion that I was a bad and unlovable person and compensated by being quiet, sweet, and kind. I was shy in school always feeling like an outcast. When I got to high school I finally started getting attention especially from the older boys. My brother told me that his group of girl friends dubbed me to be the prettiest girl in school now that they were seniors graduating. The attention was addictive. But I had the sense not to date any boys until my senior year. I may have played games with boys heads, making them like me so I could feel loved but never actually going on a date with them. I made myself a reputation saying no when asked on a date by the most popular boy in school. I took care of by myself I knew better than to date the older boys, not that my brother would have allowed it, and I leaned more towards the sweet, nerdy, cute boys rather than the hot douchebags. Despite the attention from the boys and my easygoing kind personality I was still very shy and quiet and didn’t really fit in with my classmates. I had my own group of friends from early childhood and stuck with them. My friends all moved away before me since they were older and my senior year I found myself alone. I finally started being more social and getting to know my classmates better. I graduated high school top of my class, well-liked, and in love. But I was still itching to get out of my home and take care of myself in the real world. I’m glad that I was a middle child because it has encouraged me to have high standards for myself, to take care of myself, and to succeed. I still struggle from confidence issues in my capabilities, but I work really hard to remind myself that I am the only one holding myself back. My brother is a drug addict living at home at age 23 my sister is 17 about to be a senior in high school and is extremely socially awkward and depressed with no goals for her future. I on the other hand am 19 suceeding as a sophmore in college (two states over and a 4 hour drive from my home) and I have a great group of friends that I created for myself and introduced to each other where I feel completely loved and accepted. I have a boyfriend back home who is simply amazing to me and constantly makes me feel loved and appreciated. He listens to all my stupid issues from childhood and encourages me to talk to him about them so he can understand me better. Plus he’s actually extremely driven and hot as all hell. He one of those closet nerds that know how to be social and extremely good looking but secretly are smart and sweet and nerdy (SCORE!). Growing up I was depressed but seeing where it got me now, especially in comparison to my siblings. I’m glad that I was a middle child. Because I’m taking what I went through and using it to be successful and happy. I’m studying to work as a scientist in a lab with the dream of researching diabetes and helping to find a cure. I was inspired to follow this career path by my brother whom I love and is my friend now that we’re older and the 4 years isn’t such a big gap. I’ve been getting through to my sister more, giving her life advice, I think she looks up to me. Both my siblings make jokes that I am the golden child and its true that my dad my favors me(he is truly a wonderful father and I adore him). We were always close but he owned his own business and was always working to supply for the family when we were kids, he wan’t around much for our childhoods except for a couple hours a night. Now he’s getting older he spends more time at home and when I come home from school I am thrilled to spend time with him. I suffered from middle child syndrome BIG TIME. But I overcame it. You can too, don’t let your own self doubt get in the way of your happiness. You can succeed if you work on bettering your self and making yourself do things that don’t always feel comfortable. Set goals like, start a conversation with someone new today. And do it, even if it seems scary or stupid. Eventually the little things add up and you realize that no one is judging you as harshly as your judging yourself. People are a lot more worried about what you think about them then they are about what you are saying. Trust me. Even now that I know how to come off polished and social I still second guess my self and occasionally freak out and go back into my shell when meeting too many people at once. I guess my main point is IT GETS BETTER. That is if you CHOSE to make it better. Don’t just whine about how much being in the middle sucks. It’s probably not easy being oldest or youngest either. My sister was spoiled rotten to the point where she will never be able to take care of herself. My brother has the constant feeling like hes the screw up of the family and that I outshine him. Being a kid is rough. Dwell on it or use it to improve yourself.

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Carter May 17, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Great Story. I hope your brother and sister find their way.
fyi – I already found the cure for diabetes; don’t drink high fructose corn syrup, or other processed foods…

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