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. :)

Feel free to join the discussion. We’d love to hear from you!

931 thoughts on “Middle Child Syndrome

  1. Yeah I totally related to the MCS stated above , since I’m a middle child too ( 1 three years older sister ,and a year younger brother)…well i grew up in a chinese family…i could say that favouritism are REAL ( it will be more obvious if it was a boy )but they will never admit it.. As a middle child , I always have to give in extra effort to earn my parents attention ,and approval until to the extreme that I felt like my life was all about seeking parents attention/approval and start to loose myself…I have always felt this unfairness between me and younger brother…my mom will always praise him for everything he did right but for me she will just ignore or think that I was suppose to do it just like taking me for granted, and if i don’t she will scold me or even shout at me but for my brother she will never scold him even he did something wrong.
    but to a certain point i was grateful for my parents treating me unfairly since young, it had made me more mature,tougher and more independent on life. I’m now 18. life had just begin but i still do believe in God eventhough i cant hope for much changes in my parents but i think i can let it go just like some of the comments (i read all and i cried T.T) LIFE IS ALWAYS UNFAIR BUT THATS WHAT LIFE REALLY IS.

    1. I don’t think life is not fair, I think that life has a balance but human does not know how to deal with it. I’m a middle child too buy the way and I feel the same as all this comment.

  2. Yeah I totally related to the MCS stated above , since I’m a middle child too ( 1 three years older sister ,and a year younger brother)…well i grew up in a chinese family…i could say that favouritism are REAL ( it will be more obvious if it was a boy )but they will never admit it.. As a middle child , I always have to give in extra effort to earn my parents attention ,and approval until to the extreme that I felt like my life was all about seeking parents attention/approval and start to loose myself…I have always felt this unfairness between me and younger brother…my mom will always praise him for everything he did right but for me she will just ignore or think that I was suppose to do it just like taking me for granted, and if i don’t she will scold me or even shout at me but for my brother she will never scold him even he did something wrong.
    but to a certain point i was grateful for my parents treating me unfairly since young, it had made me more mature,tougher and more independent on life. I’m now 18. life had just begin but i still do believe in God eventhough i can hope for much changes in my parents but i think i can let it go just like some of the comments (i read all and i cried T.T) LIFE IS ALWAYS UNFAIR BUT THATS WHAT LIFE REALLY IS.

  3. I am not the middle child but i do have 3 beautiful children a 4 year girl old a2 year old boy and a 11week old boy.

    I think my 2 year old boy has mcs, I thought I treated my children all the same but reading ur comments maybe I don’t??

    He bites and pinches and hits all the time and its been a lot more since my daughter 4started school and my baby boy came along.
    I think he thinks his being pushed out but I love him so much but think his craving more attention.
    Thank u I’m glad I found this I’m going to try and be a better mum to him and give him more of my time

  4. I suffer from middle child syndrome and it has never been easy. Feeling like you don’t belong, like no one is listening. I also suffer from severe anger issues. I get the most angry about the littlest things. If you suffer from either of these things, it will get better. You, will be heard. there’s this quote that gets me going and I hope it will help.

    I AM STRONG
    because I know my weaknesses

    I AM BEAUTIFUL
    because I am aware of my flaws

    I AM FEARLESS
    because I learnt to recognise, illusion from real

    I AM WISE
    because I learnt from my mistakes

    I AM A LOVER
    because I have felt hate

    and…

    I CAN LAUGH
    because I have known sadness….

    Good luck x

  5. I’m not the middle child, in fact, I’m the eldest in the family of 5. However, sometimes I couldn’t help but to think that I have the middle child syndrome.

    I grow up in a Chinese family. I have a sister who is 3 years younger and a brother that’s 13 years younger. As the eldest, my parents assume that I should know what to do and thus giving my lesser attention than my sister. Everything was okay, my father gave me and my sis attention and my mother gave my sis her entire attention. Then my brother came into the picture. Being the only boy and toddler in the family, he was given the utmost attention.

    So the splitting of attention is like this:
    Me: 2/6 of father’s
    Sis: 1/6 of father’s, 1/2 of mother’s
    Bro: 3/6 of father’s, 1/2 of mother’s

    In the family, I was the trouble maker, I didn’t exceed academically, I wasn’t as pretty as my sis too. My sis was everything I’m not. She’s pretty, smart and sociable. It’s no wonder my mother would give her attention rather than me.

    I feel so unloved. I was outcasted by my mother. From young, I was the one get the most and worse beating from her. She could hit me with everything: belt, vacuum cleaner, shoes, balloon sticks, anything that’s within her reach, it can be her weapon. My sis would just sit by herself, if needed, she will rub in the situation with salt.

    I thought that when I’m older, situation would get better. No, it’s still the same. There was this one time when I was 17, I got beaten by her till I screamed, because we lived in a flat, neighbours could hear us. One of them called the police and they came. She still has the balls to tell me to tell the police that she didn’t hit me.

    Right now, we do not talk at all. She does not acknowledge my existence unless there’s a problem. She would nag, insult, starve me. Whenever there’s food, she would call my sis and bro, but not me. Whenever she wants to go out, she would call my sis and bro, but not me.

    Thank God I have my father, he dote on me because if he don’t, who will? My situation may not sound as bad as the others, but when pain, we intensify it.

    1. I am so sorry, you have suffered, I don’t speak to my mother either and I feel so much better. Every person deserves to feel loved so love yourself first!

  6. I am the second of four siblings – my brother Sam is 3 years my senior, and the youngest sister May is 6 years my junior. My other sister Dee is only 11 months younger than I am – which means I was the middle child from before I turned one year old.

    Growing up, my mother loathed me. I was told she had hoped for a daughter when she was carrying me but she ended up with an effeminate boy instead, so maybe that’s the reason for her disdain towards me. She already had a macho son in Sam and when Dee and eventually May came out, she had her daughters, so why bother with me, you know?

    Am I engaging in self-pity? No, I’m just being frank.

    I knew Mom loathed me since I was 5. One morning, I felt this sharp pain in my legs and couldn’t stand up so I had to miss pre-school. Mom was convinced I was faking it.
    I stayed in bed until noon and she didn’t check on me once. Feeling hungry, I slowly got out of bed and used the wall for support as I took one painful step after another all the way to the dining room where Mom was preparing lunch. There I was, one slow at a time, leaning against the wall, and all she said was, “You don’t look like you’re in pain. Seem to be walking fine to me.” If it were Sam or Dee, we’d be at the clinic already.

    Another time, when I was 9, we were in the parents’ room. When it was time for bed, everyone started kissing our parents goodnight. I was afraid of Mom so I only kissed Dad. Then little May called out, “Aslan only kissed Dad. You’re supposed to kiss Mom too!” Mom’s smile immediately turned into a scowl and I was frozen for what felt like eternity. So I walked up to her and kissed one cheek – she didn’t even look at me. Dad just chuckled.

    Dad was a hardworking breadwinner and was always travelling so his parenting skills were usually phoned-in. But he was still biased. Sam and May could ask for anything and he’d get it for them. I never got that privilege. So I knew from early on that my parents favoured the other three: from age 7, I had to do all the chores at home – laundry, dishes, vacuuming etc. I was already handling a knife at 7, peeling onions and garlic – and if I didn’t, I’d get scolded. But Sam, Dee and May were never expected to do chores – I even had to clean Sam’s school shoes and socks. They’d get to sleep in until noon on weekends but I have to wake up at 9am to do chores – Mom would bang on my door, screaming, if I got up any later. She didn’t do that with the others. My siblings could do little wrong but whenever something messes up at home, I would be the prime suspect with heavy scolding to follow.

    For example, there was this one time, May was 6 and had accidentally locked Mom in the bathroom. My cousin Bill, Dee and I (aged 12) were hanging out in my room which was at the other end of the house. I thought I heard someone scream my name but Bill and Dee said they didn’t hear anything.
    Eventually, Sam heard Mom calling for help and let her out (his bathroom was adjacent to hers). Then she came marching to my room and screamed at me, “I was calling out for you at the top of my lungs and don’t pretend you didn’t hear me! You are so useless!!” What puzzled me was this: May had locked her in. Sam was in the room closest to her. Bill and Dee was with me, yet I was the only one singled out for not rescuing her. All that was my fault?

    So yeah. When shit happened, I was to blame. Mom also enjoyed scolding me in front of her friends. I hated that most because her friends would give me this pitying look. Even when they complimented me by telling her “Aslan is so helpful around the house” her reply would be “That’s because he’s a ‘fairy’.”

    I was afraid of my Mom but eventually grew to hate her. Sometimes when we argue – by that, I mean she would scold me for something and I’d just sulk (to this day, I have never ever raised my voice to my parents because I find that disrespectful) – Mom and I would not talk to each other for weeks, the longest being three months.

    Because I was treated so unfairly, for a while I thought I was orphaned. There were times I contemplated suicide. When I was 16, I brought a knife into my room but was too chicken to slice my wrists. So I prayed to God, crying, and begged of Him, “Please, God, take my life now. Please. Let me sleep and not wake up. You can throw me into hell for I all care because I’m already experiencing hell here. Any place is better than here.”

    The reason why I wanted to die then was because, against my wishes, my parents sent me to boarding school for 2 years. I didn’t care about being away from home but I didn’t want to be away from all my friends. But it worked out in my favour: at 16, that was when I began feeling free from my family. And maybe because I was far away, and there was noone to help around the house, Mom started to mellow down. When I came back during school holidays, she didn’t scream at me as much. Then over the years, when I started college, she stopped scolding all together and became warmer towards me.

    Still, I hated my childhood – to this day, it’s hard for me to recall good memories involving my parents. Even now, my parents and I hardly talk. We would be watching TV, eating dinner together, or even in the car together, we don’t talk much, if at all. Only when one of the other siblings are around, then they would be chatty.

    But somehow, miracle of miracles, I turned out alright.

    See, I was the first to graduate from college, the first to leave the nest, the first one to get a job, the first to buy his own house. In contrast, Sam the eldest was the best student for English and History, yet when his pre-college results came out, he flunked both of those subjects and couldn’t apply for college. So he had to wait another year to re-take his exams. He graduated a couple of years after me, worked for a year and a half, then quit and was unemployed for about 8 years. When he got married at 33, he was still unemployed (my parents paid for everything, of course. In fact, throughout his unemployment, they gave him a monthly allowance. They also paid for his car. At the age of 30, he was asking money from Dad to buy an iPod).

    May, the spoilt brat, changed courses and colleges about 7 times (I lost count, but all paid for by the parents). Eventually she left college for good and now is in and out of work (she also gets allowances from the parents).

    Now as grown-up, Sam and I exchange a quota of one sentence a year – he was mean and abusive towards me until I was 15. He has tried on few occasions to try and connect with me but I’m not interested – the scars run too deep.
    May and I used to be close but I kicked her out of my apartment two years ago because she was being spoilt and selfish – she was 30 and lazy and was turning my apartment into a pig sty. She felt victimised and refused to talk to me up to today.
    Dee and I are the closest because of our 11 months difference. Also because, since May came into the picture, she had experienced what it was like to be the middle child. Dee is still my parents’ favourite though because she’s the most gregarious, but she still has to work for it: when Dee got out of college, she asked for a car but my parents said she was old enough to pay for her own. Then when May started work and moved in with me, she got a car without even asking. Dee and May have never gotten along.

    These are the kinda things favouritism does to families.

    I maybe an adult now but the favouritism still happens. When I was 28, Dad said he had created funds for all of us since we were kids. The year before, he had given Dee hers and she told me she had received around $3000. She believed mine was more – maybe $6000 plus – since some of her money was used to pay for her UK degree (unlike me, she didn’t get a scholarship so the parents had to help pay for her tuition). When I received my account book from Dad, it came with a note “I had saved some money for you but we had to use some of it to help pay for your sister’s college.” My balance was around $500. They give monthly allowances to Sam and May because they were unemployed spoilt brats, yet they use money that was rightfully mine to help pay for Dee’s education? Gee, thanks, Mom & Dad.

    But here is what I learned from my experience as a middle child: let go and let God. My parents are good people – noone gave them a manual on how to be good parents. They’re human, they make mistakes. Sure, they treated me unfairly but they still gave me a home, food, and rights to education.

    And there really is no use to dwell on this predicament. Apart from developing thick skin, I’ve learned the important thing is this: don’t seek for their approval. I’ve had good grades, great success, was generally an obedient child, respectful… yet none of that changed anything. In my parents’ eyes, I’m still just second-rate.

    And that’s fine by me. Because I am now an adult with my own ‘family’, a set of friends who respect me and love me, and co-workers who hold me in high esteem. To them, I am never second-rate. Sure, due to Middle Child Syndrome, I suffer insecurity, I’m introverted, I have trust issues, I have dreadfully low self-esteem, I’m pessimistic sometimes bla bla bla… we all have our demons. But I sure as hell won’t let that get the better of me. Because I suffered through childhood, and that’s all in the past. Now, I deserve better, dammit.

    So if anyone is reading this, if you’re a middle child going through shit or if you’re someone who gets treated unfairly or abused by your family, and you feel lonely, under-appreciated, suicidal, worthless, humiliated… know this: it gets better. Just bloody hang in there. Find strength in God. Be the person you want to be, always think well of others, work hard to be a better person and go get a better life. And quit complaining – do something about it. Because in the end, what’s going to happen to your life is up to you. You can only blame your parents or your family for so long – come a time, you have to stop seeing yourself as a victim. You have to be an adult.

    Have faith. And Godspeed. My prayers go out to you.

    Life is good, God is great,
    A.

    1. i just read all of this. my childhood was nowhere near a quarter as bad as yours. I still suffer from low self esteem, lack of drive (sometimes), anxiety… etc etc. Somehow you pulled through, eventually I hope I can do.

      I think almost all middle kids, maybe 90%, are cursed with the MCS no matter how nurturing their childhood was.

      I am scared of the future, I’m scared about how it will turn out for me. Where I live our government doesn’t take care of its citizens as well as yours probably does so that’s a downside.

      I am amazed you don’t hate your parents, especially your mom (I refuse to call her a “good person” I’m sorry) and glad you didn’t turn out to be a psychopath.

    2. I cried reading your letter.may this an inspiration to others.
      An eye opener to those who experience the same situation likr

    3. Hi. I am not a middle child, but the younger of two children, with a 21 month age difference. I got the abuse, neglect and abandonment treatment. My brother could do no wrong. I am only writing to say, that the treatment you got you did not deserve. That was what made your mom the criminal, not you. The biggest obstacle in believing this, is that at the time that we are suffering all the injustices, are during the formative years, where we are too young to have another point of reference. I am sorry that you, me and countless other people suffered at the hands of the very people who should have been their protectors and advocates. I know that you will find your way in this life, and I was comforted by Psalm 27:10-14, paraphrased, it says: If your mother and father fail you, I will take you up (The Lord speaking) take you up to mean, become your parent. I am sorry that you suffered, I really am, but now you are in control of your adult life and I hope it holds all the joy you are longing for. God bless you :)

    4. well done Aslan, it was a long letter but I’m glad that I read it all, very much my story of middle child is the same. God bless as all

    5. Thanks for use comments, its comforting to know there are people out there going through the same thoughts&feelings as herself being a middle child, the one thing that’s got me through is prayer and relying on friends, who are like family…also whenu have a family of use own, who love you, for you&my qualities&can see the value & worth in you as a person…I’m a middle child, growing up my brother was horrible to me, & constantly pucked on me& got away with everything, dad always out him on a pedasta!&my sister was the baby,need I say anymore, I find comfort in having good friends, happy social life&keeping fut&healthy..most important ly to loveureself&find inner peace&self worth&live use life, as we only have one, live it to the full,keep the faith,what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger..peace&love to all you middle children out there, I understand how you feel…lots of love to u all…;)

    6. Aslan, I want to thank you for sharing your story. I can relate to so much of your experience in childhood. I have done a lot of soul searching in my 56 (2 months till I’m 57) years and still struggle with insecurity and sadness. I’m pretty much a textbook example of the Middle Child Syndrome and some of my character flaws have prevented me from having and maintaining a happy relationship as an adult. I’m grateful to have read what you wrote because I also believe in God and think He is my only way of finding peace and solace…

  7. I have a husband whom I could not figure out what was going on with him. As a person interested in psychology after many years I finally did research on MCS. I have 3 siblings older and two younger. My mother always told me I could do whatever I wanted. Therefore anytime someone said I couldn’t do it, I ALWAYS proved them wrong! I became an over achiever because I was also teased because my skin was the darkest of all my siblings. I am now trying to be the wind beneath my husband’s wing to help him manage through this. While his Mom and Dad did contribute to the issue, as his wife I am the one in a better position to help through this. He possess a great deal of these symptoms. I asked him to review this with an open mind and let’s discuss to determine if additional help is needed. I draw as well and I want you to know that you possess a unique skill, never feel bad about that! We are all special and we all have talent. Dig deep, find your talent and enjoy your new found skill and start allowing it to help you build self-esteem. Learn to love yourself!!!

  8. Its true,.. All the words you said is true.. Parents are really unfair .. I already felt those emotions too :( Its so sad

  9. I am the middle child of 3 daughters . I totally relate to the feeling of not being good enough and growing feeling unloved. As I got older I thought I was going crazy for feeling this way like it was all in my head but over the last couple of years events have happened that have only validated how I have felt for most of my life. Here’s just one example, since I was 17 I have payed dig money to my parents to stay in the house I’ve grown up in my whole life , I also payed for all my own things , phone , and paid for my own driving lessons , car and insurance. And for most people this is normal and expected for a 17 year old , I agree. But here’s the kicker – my sisters have never had to do these things. My older sister lived here dig free and had a car bought for her by my grandparents , my parents bought my little sister a car yesterday and have paid her insurance , they pay her phone bill and tap her money when lever she asks , yet when I’m a bit short on my dig money because I’ve just paid £300 to get my car fixed it’s like the world is ending (please also note I am a full time university student currently in my final year ) . Some people may see this as a moan about money but it’s soo much more than that. This pattern has happened through out my entire life , I’ve been singled out and made to feel like I’ve had to go without so that the other two can get. This recent example has driven an even bigger wedge between me and my mum to the point that we don’t speak and I’m finding it more and more difficult to have a relationship with her. All those times people would joke and say aww it’s middle child syndrome , no , these feelings I have are real and causes by real situations in which I’m constantly treated different like an outsider and the worst part is I have no idea why.

    1. That is so messed up. How can parents be so unbelievably unfair? It blows my mind sometimes how parents can behave. Don’t they grasp that their actions will have a far reaching effect on their kids. I too am a middle child and have always suffered low self esteem.
      It’s only now (I’m 35) that I’m ready to look at my past and see how my childhood might have contributed to this; I always just assumed I was a depressive person, that I was just somehow flawed – in short, I’ve blamed myself.
      Now, I’m going to get some therapy and examine exactly how I’ve ended up here. I don’t want to blame anyone. I just want to understand and then let it go.
      I wish you all the very best,
      Oliver.

  10. I am so glad that I did not experience this growing up. I am the third of four and the only girl, so I don’t relate to this at all. Also, my brother who was born second and I excelled the most academically, musically, and athletically. I think my oldest brother felt the most left out, as he was an only child for three years and in the following three years gained 3 siblings. The youngest was definitely coddled and even at 30, still thinks he should get his way every time. I have wonderful, loving parents and never felt unnoticed, in fact, I always preferred to have less attention. I do feel that the middle children in my family were held to a higher standard, because we were always high acheivers, but I don’t think that has anything to do with birth order. I am so thankful for all of things my parents did for me.

    1. I believe it is because of the fact that you are of the opposite sex from your other brothers. Since you were the first girl of your parents they felt it as if though you were the first child just because of the sex change which means you did not truly understand what Middle Child Syndrom is about.

  11. You guys all have the wrong idea, you all think that middle child is wrong and that everything a middle child does is frowned upon. It’s not, let me tell you that for fact. My mum favours my little sister, my mums always wanted a little girl, and fair enough you are looking from a middle child perspective, but if you ever took the view of your older sibling, you’ll act totally different.
    Your older sibling will always get the blame for all the arguments and I know this, this is how it is for me… “You’re the oldest, you’re scaring your little sister, you shouldn’t bully your brother”…. I get it all, my brother gets away with everything… He is the perfect example of a middle child… Annoying, does anything to get attention, always has to go that extra mile to get praise. You don’t realise how your behaviour affects your older sibling.
    You wonder why he/she ignores you, shouts at you for almost nothing, punches you, slaps you, wishes you were dead etc. it’s not his/her attitude to you as an individual, it’s towards your incisive behaviour. You stop that and you’ve pretty much took a bigger step than you’ve ever taken. If my brother actually wised up and listened to anything I tell him about his behaviour towards me, how to act around me, when he will gain respect from me. But the fact of the matter is, it’s not gunna happen.
    You all say mums and dads have favourites, you’re right, they favour the younger children especially the youngest. I’m the middle child to my dad but the eldest to my mum because my dad had a child at my age (17) then got with my mum at 20 or something. But I don’t have “middle child syndrome” because I have an older sister and we get along really well and always have done. He’s doing it even now, he’s stayed in the hotel room to tap his hands and fingers to piss me off and all I’m doing is eating Pringles…
    My dad favours me, because I am quiet, all introvertal and like to have my own freedom. He loves my older sister but she’s 23 and has her own life which is fine, my younger brother is 13 and he’s about as mature as a 5 yr old. He doesn’t know when to stop, he doesn’t care if people beat the shit out of him, it doesn’t stop him. I do wish he was dead because I was never like him and I hate him so much, it sounds horrible but it’s true at the minute.

    1. You have no idea, you gave us your perspective yes, but it may be different for YOUR family, No two families will be the same, and with my Family, My brother(the first child), hits me with no reason but just cause he felt like it, I can walk in the room and he will hit me, He’s nearly choked me to death one time JUST CAUSE he felt like it so i bit him to escape it’s the only this i could do, Yet i got in trouble, So explain this to why does my brother want to KILL ME so freaking bad, your a first child so you should, Please do tell.

  12. im the middle child of three and i agree with this article i have a major attitude problem but its only so i can get attention because i feel more noticed when my mom talks about my attitude

  13. Some of the comments I’ve read here, I can really relate. I am the middle girl of three girls. I grew up with a single mother; my father was NEVER around. After my parents got divorced, we lived with my mother’s parents. My grandmother says she was a middle child, but her favoring my older and younger sisters made me wonder if she really was. My grandmother made us dress like we were identical triplets and my mother didn’t do anything about it, but join in. I REALLY rebelled against it and even told my mother how much I hated it, but all she said was, “I think it’s cute.” My grandmother made my older sister stand out by putting her pictures in the different frames while my younger sister and I had the same frames. My grandmother made my younger sister stand out by putting her in the different color of the same dress that my older sister and I had to wear. The ONLY time I had anything different from my sisters was when we all three had something different. My older sister also stood out on her own because she had blonde hair, while my younger sister and I have brown. My younger sister also stood out because she has an unusual name. I am grown and out on my own, I haven’t gotten married and I will probably never have children. I guess maybe because I’m afraid of doing to my kids what was done to me. I have since moved back to the town my grandparents lived in and I am living in their house. Even before my grandmother died, I had to deal with people (who haven’t seen us in years) coming up to me and saying, “Oh, you must be (my younger sister’s name).” I heard this soooooooooooooo many times and even from one of my best friend’s mothers and that was really upsetting. I actually asked someone who said that to me why they believed I was (my younger sister’s name). They said, “Well, you don’t have blonde hair so you can’t be (my older sister’s name), so you must be (my younger sister’s name). I told them, “You realize that there are three of us.” I then told them who I was. At my grandmother’s funeral, a person went up to my older sister and knew who she was and they did the same thing to my younger sister. They then came up to me and said, “And, who are you?” I couldn’t believe it, over the years, I seemed to have ceased to exist to a lot of people who knew all three of us when we were younger. I will admit that there are a lot of people in this town who do remember me and I do appreciate that, greatly. However, it is upsetting when the same person assumed I was my younger sister, twice.
    My mother and both of my sisters have always just snickered when I’ve mentioned Middle Child Syndrome. They know that the being dressed like identical triplets is a very sensitive issue for me even though I’m in my 40s. It’s also to the point that I told my older sister not to dress her two girls like twins when I was with her shopping.
    I’ve always been made to feel that I’m making mountains out o mole hills, but when my sisters do it, they’re taken seriously. I always tried to get my mother’s attention even to the point of being a pain and getting in trouble. At least, I knew my mother was aware that I still existed. My grandmother also used to tell me, “Why can’t you be more like me? Why can’t you be more like your mother? Why can’t you be more like your younger sister?” I was always treated like the dumb pretty one in the family despite the fact that my IQ was higher than my older sister and consistent with my younger sister’s IQ. The only difference is that I didn’t apply myself, instead I rebelled against a lot of things. I was the one who developed a very independent personality. I was the first to move out and pay my own bills. My two sisters pretty much moved out of the house when they got married. I know one reason why I haven’t gotten married is that I refuse to allow any man tell me what to do, how to be or how I should look. I did date one guy who wanted me to be who he wanted me to be. I had to wear a strong-smelling perfume because that’s what he wanted. When he told me I had to change who I was to please others is when I broke things off with him. Anytime a guy displays that type of control over me, I break things off. If they won’t accept me for who I am, then that ends it. I developed that kind of thinking where my grandmother was concerned. I believe that she missed out a great deal due to her controlling nature. Because she was determined to turn me into who she wanted, she missed out on finding out who I really am.
    I have to admit, like some of the comments above have, that I contemplated suicide even to the point of researching ways of suicide that were easy and painless. However, my religious beliefs and my beliefs prevented me from doing it. I believe that God made me who I am for a reason and anyone who refused to get to know me, it’s their loss. I’m not kidding myself, however, even at my age, I still have issues about how I grew up. I don’t have any animosity toward my older sister, but I do toward my younger sister and my grandmother. My mother and I do have a better relationship now than when I was growing up. Although, I do believe that she should have done a better job of raising us and standing up to her own mother.
    Middle Child Syndrome is VERY real and it shouldn’t be brushed aside. I believe that anytime parents decide to have more than two children, they should be educated in Middle Child Syndrome. I will say in my older sister’s favor that her three children don’t exhibit this syndrome. However, she has (in order of birth) a son and two daughters. Her son is the oldest and the middle child is also the first daughter.
    Middle children (not all) are taken for granted and never should be. I will say this, middle children do have a unique way of looking at both sides of a coin. I’m not only an older sister, but a younger sister. I have the unique position of being both and not just an older or younger sister. Only middle children have this unique position in life and I believe that someone who isn’t a middle child has lost out on that unique position.

  14. I was the middle child of five children – two older brothers and two younger brothers – twins. Right there I didn’t have a hope of recognition. Even before the twins were born I was aware I was too much bother for my mother. I quickly became the scapegoat in the family and it has continued all my life. I am now, and have been for many years, distanced from most of the family.

    Middle child syndrome is very real and for me was excruciatingly painful from infancy right up through my teens until leaving home at seventeen. I failed at everything through lack of support and encouragement from my parents – that’s if I ever ventured to do anything in the first place. I never finished anything I started for fear of failure.

    I have gone through life struggling with the feelings of being unwanted, unloved, and unworthy. To this day – and I am 65 yo – I have trouble with relationships, but I am working through my emotional issues when they arise and releasing them. It works – my pain load feels lighter already :) As I see it working through the painful memories one by one is the only way to release them.

    Better late than never :)

  15. parents do in fact choose favroits i was told by my own mom that my younger brother was her fav. ( i am the middle of three)

  16. As an adult, what can I do to deal with my MCS? It truly gets in the way of my relationship with men. Also, it gets in the way of me prioritizing what’s important in my life. I seek things that are not real or I put up with people who I should dump from my life.

  17. i like this article…and i also think if you’re not a middle child, then you should not speak on the matter. Especially if you’re here to discredit. Not only am i the middle child (2 brothers, 3 years older, 3 years younger) but we were raised by a single mother for the most part. The best part of the oreo cookie is the middle, lets represent. Stop alienating ourselves and change our perspective..its never too late.

  18. I am a middle child of an older sister and a younger brother. Since my sister and I are only a year apart and the same sex, we were treated like twins. We wore the same outfits and treated the same. (for a while, I actually believed we were twins.)But, all the decisions made between us were made by my sister, whatever she wanted, we both got. Thats how it was until my mom met some one else than my real father and remarried. She had a child with my step-father, my younger brother, who is five years younger. When he was born, my sister and I branched away from each other.( but we are still very close.) We wore different outfits but whatever my sister wanted or said applied to me as if it was my desires. I always got her hand-me-downs and I felt left out because my brother was cooed on while my sister was praised for her grades. It doesn’t help that my younger brother is not fond of me and they both brag about their grades. I feel like i never have a say in anything, and to get attention i have to act annoying. Whenever I do get to make my own decisions, my family tease me by saying ” is that your choice or (sister’s name)?”. I have actually find ways to get noticed. I show off all my sketches to my mother, as for my step-dad only cares to show interest in anything when my brother is involved,and speak in Japanese. (I wanted to learn French but my sister constantly speaks it in broken English/French sentences.) But my sister is learning Japanese too, and now getting all that attention again. She also have been making fun of my art, so I haven’t drawn lately. My grades are not the best and my mom keeps comparing me to herself. And I don’t want to be compared to her, I don’t want to be anything like her. She had told me she saw a friend of hers, whom was a middle child, do bad things to get noticed.And that she’s trying to treat us equally, but shes not doing a great job.

    1. I’m a middle child too. It sounds like your older sister enjoys the attention and doesn’t like it (whether consciously or subconsciously) when you get attention and is trying to get the focus back on her. Now that you know, making changes in your life for your own self-esteem and happiness is your responsibility. It’s tough because whether they know it or not, your family will resist your changes and try to maintain the status quo and maybe never admit the role they play (and played). Be strong! You are a wonderful person and you deserve happiness! Go out and get it! :)

    2. I identify with many negative outcomes of being a middle child. I am a “middle child”. I became competitive, and a real achiever, which only as an adult, did I realize that these things had something to do with getting affirmation from my parents. I married a middle child man. He was also competitive in sports, and a high achiever in his field of expertise. There will always be some painful memories when children look back on their experiences growing up and each of us can decide whether to experience self pity or realize that the disadvantages as a middle child may have worked in our favor. For example you are sketching things, and developing a talent that you might not have pursued otherwise. You are going to understand certain dynamics in human behaviors when you are in the workplace. At some point, if you can accept your birth order as an act of nature, and not blame your Mom, and understand that she too is trying against powerful influences to affirm you as a person, I believe you will develop a better relationship with her, and it will be like an investment into the future selves that you will one day be. I would encourage you to keep sketching, keep showing them to your mom, see the jealousy for what it is when others downplay your gift and talent, and do not look for affirmation from them. You are equal in value to everyone else, and it is how you respond to life situations, (not simply react) that will build your strengths.

  19. I have 3 siblings and I consider myself, the 3rd child, as the middle one. I have an older sister, an older brother and a younger brother. I believe I possess the middle child syndrome even though we are even in number because although my older brother was born second, and only a year before me, he is still considered as a first child along with my older sister. This is because he is male. My sister gets to feel the glory of being the first-born female and my older brother gets to feel the glory of being the first-born male. Obviously, the last child gets to be showered with unconditional, blind love. More so because he is an ADHD child. Apparently, he, in the eyes of my parents, could do no wrong and we are all encouraged, no, EXPECTED to feel the same.

    I hate birth order with every fibre of my being. If I said now that suicide has crossed my mind only once or twice (and that should already have been plenty a number for a child to want to die), I would be lying. No longer can I count the times I have wanted to cut my wrists, jump off a building, take my father’s guns and just shoot myself (but that would be quite messy, I thought), and I tell you all I have thought of a hundred different ways to die. But no. I was too smart for that. Too religious. Too knowing that in my faith, one believes to be damned for eternity if one killed oneself. Only those thoughts keep me from my death bed. Not my family, not my friends, nor my dreams, and not even because I was afraid of dying.

    As a middle child, I was always the disappointment. Always the one who cried the most because she could never make her parents proud. I remember dreading the end of school ceremonies because I have no achievement to show my parents (I never was good at contests). I was always in the top 5 in class, almost never missed a step, but for some reason, I can never win a medal. Just one, measly medal, was all I ever wanted. They hated certificates. I had a lot of certificates… I wanted to burn them all. I am very smart, that I know, but I am always reminded by them that when they were younger, they were smarter. Wiser. And always I am reminded that I am a failure. Once, I scored 99 out of a hundred. I showed them my test paper thinking that finally, I can show them! But instead, they just frowned and told me, “So you got a 99. If you managed to do that, you should have managed a full score!” I was crushed. That may just be one of the lowest points in my life. I should be okay with all these, really. But I’m not because my sister, older brother, and younger brother get treated with more favor. My older sister is smart, a leader, but she is a demon. At least, acts like one. My parents say to leave her be because she is older and I have to respect her. My older brother is fair enough, but everyone treats him as if he can handle things better. I am only a year younger than him. I am smarter than him. He hasn’t ever been an achiever in class, but he is good at speaking, so he gets a lot of medals. So much praise. My younger brother is just abyssmal. He is stupid. He is lazy. He spends too much time playing games. He talks back, and he is psychologically incapacitated. But everyone’s love for him ranks way above me. (Do I even HAVE a rank?) Once, he got a medal for being best in computer. That award is given almost in random or as a pity award. I got 5 certificates, and I was compared to him. “Why can’t you follow your little brother’s example? Look! He has a gold medal!” I am compared to absolutely everybody my parents can think of. I am compared to themselves, to my siblings, to my classmates, to our relatives, to THEIR siblings, etc etc etc and I absolutely hate it. Whenever I voice something out, I am not taken seriously. I have no opinion that matters. I say something, their minds drift off until I just stop talking. Then my siblings say the exact same thing and they are glorified. I try an take credit for my words and actions, and I come off as conceited. They are such gigantic hypocrites. They scold me and make me feel bad about something, and 5 minutes later they do the exact same thing. No one tells them off, of course. I mean, who would want to pick on them? Noooo. That is wrong. She was born 3 years earlier, he was born a year earlier, he was born 4 years later, that just can’t be right. They are angels, the lot of them.

    There are a lot of things wrong with my family. My parents fight. Every. Single. Day. Oh, no, it is not normal. It is not normal when they are always on edge. When objects are thrown around, doors are kicked, threats of separation always, always there. I say I have grown numb to it, but my emotional wound grows each day. We also never communicate with each other. Everyone avoids talking about emotions, but everyone is just so openly brutal about their opinions in one’s faults. I have pent up so much inside, it is eating me alive. I have no one to talk to. I can’t tell my friends because they just have that look in their faces. I have always been good at reading people. That certain look that says, “blah blah blah your needs. How can you complain? You have the good life.” So I never dared tell anyone again. No one understands. I am so, so envious of my friends. I have known them and seen their family cultures, and they still complain even though they are so, indescribably lucky.

    I have now grown enough to understand that this should never happen to any child. That my parents are far from perfect. Even far from just ‘good’. They believe themselves to be adequate enough, though. I don’t hate them. I appreciate everything that they have done. I am fed, clothed, sheltered, educated and disciplined. But I am not what I would have wanted myself to grow up into. I am broken, cold, and scared. Scared that I will commit the same mistakes if I were to raise children of my own. Also, I would have held my parents in higher esteem if for once, I felt loved.

    This is a real problem people. Don’t turn a blind eye.

    Salute to middle children

    1. May: these are dysfunctional problems that will in all likelihood never be fixed in your environment. But you will grow up and it is important that you do for yourself some of the things that are not happening in your development from parents and siblings. Short of professional counseling or a radical spiritual experience on the part of your parents, you are going to have to decide to do and act in accordance with what it best for you. Get the benefit of a secure home if that is what you are provided. Get the benefit of the best education from whatever school you are attending…not for recognition, but as your own personal investment into your own future. If you get an A great, if you get a B, great. If you get a C. take note and work on it, or realize that is just a bit more hard subject for yourself. and accept it. You are very smart I can tell, and analytical. So you have some natural gifts. Figure out what else you think you would like to develop in yourself, and without competing in an way, just pursue your own interests. People tend to attack the weaker party, and when you become strong and confident within yourself you will find there are some people who will be attracted to that. When you are older and able, from being stronger, you will be able to look around and give something out to others, instead of painfully feeling you did not get enough (which as true as that it is….is going nowhere in your growth and development.) I believe when you realized you were in a no win situation at home, it triggered grief, and you should look at the phases of grief to see where you are in it. I know that is hard to do, but I believe it could help you move through some thought processes, and keep things from turning into chronic self pity. That would just not work for you to grow and develop to your best person that you are.

    2. I was also a middle child, the younger sis of an older brother who had photographic memory who was called a “prodigy” by my parents. I was an older sister to 2 brothers. The older of the two was organized and really good at sports. The younger was musical and could play the violin. Me? What about me?. . . . I was quirky, introverted and didn’t have the internal manual on social interactions that everyone else was born with. I was always awkward. My parents had to work hard and guess at what I liked or needed. I rarely got in trouble, but I felt invisible. One would figure that as nonverbal as I was, everyone would listen when I opened my mouth to say anything. Instead, the response was shock, then amnesia for medical most of what I had to say. . . .. I am now married with kids of my own. My middle child has (well, is) had her share of difficulties that I identify with being a middle child. She is not a troublesome daughter and I feel for her. Your story in particular struck a cord. As I watch her sleep, I wonder if I just passed on my misery. I don’t want to be the parent who was blind and ineffectual. If I am, I’ll have to “own” it and change, because I want my middle child to be happy with a healthy outlook.
      Thank you

  20. Hi , I’m a middle child ^__^

    I have the elder sister , younger brother and youngest sister
    I’m the second child .

    I cry when I read this … it is totally me .

    My family is Chinese living in Thailand . So a boy is the best for them . Unfortunately when I’m between my elder sister and my younger brother . Not imagine what I’ll be .

    I’ll never treat my baby like this . Thanks god , at least I know that what should parents do to protect their kid from MCS .

  21. Im a middle child 2 years apart from my oldest Sister and 1 and half from my younger ..
    I get Jealous Easily and Very Lonely and Empty inside always thinking i did Something wrong in life and i wasnt meant to be here i Just feel better on the internet or listening music or eating o-o

    I love How you wrote this Its detailed and true only a middle child could write this and know how it feels to be lonely and alone.
    Its just Amazing

  22. 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

  23. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. I agree Dustin. My first child was a girl, my second child was a boy and my third child was a girl. My son never experirenced the middle child syndrome because he was the only boy and as you said everything he did was special. So I had my children who were able to enjoy their placement as the firstborn, only boy, and baby girl.

  24. 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”.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    1. 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..

  27. 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

  28. 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.

    1. 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

    2. This is quite different than what I am used to. Ususally if the middle child is a different sex than the other two, that middle child gets to enjoy his/her birth order just for being the only one. I’m curious as to how your brothers treated you and if you are close with them. Normally brothers are protective of their sisters and it would be interesting to hear about they reacted to your being belittled all the time.

  29. 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….

  30. 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.

    1. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

    1. 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?

  33. 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.

    1. 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.

  34. 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.

    1. 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,,,;

  35. 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.

  36. 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

    1. 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

      1. 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…

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

    1. 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..

  39. 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!

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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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