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!

888 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.

    because I know my weaknesses

    because I am aware of my flaws

    because I learnt to recognise, illusion from real

    because I learnt from my mistakes

    because I have felt hate


    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,

    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…;)

  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,

  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 .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *