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Middle Child Syndrome

   44 votes

  1. 1. Where in your family do you sit?

    • Oldest child in three or more
      6
    • Middle child in three
      9
    • Middle in four or more
      10
    • Youngest child in three or more
      0
    • Older of two
      7
    • Younger of two
      2
    • Only child
      10

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17 posts in this topic

Posted

I hope I've got this in the right place, if not, I hope a mod will put it where it should live.

I've always been very interested in family/child order, and how it affects the personality. I know absolutely bot-all about pyschology, so all of this is purely speculation, and a general gathering of info. No intention of offence either.

I'm aware I haven't specifically included twins, becuase I generally find they will consider themselves older or younger than the twin, depending on the leading/submissive nature of the twin.

So, background. I'm a middle of three. One of my friends is younger of two. Another is third of four. We all would consider ourselves middle children, and to suffer from middle child syndrome. I thought I'd made it up, then saw some documentary about it (not the most reliable, i know), where the middle child feels different or inferior to his or her siblings. It also occurs most commonly to children with only a few years between them and thier siblings. When there's a big gap between an older and younger sibling, they're both more likely to act more like only children.

I found it interesting that Friend2 up there felt inferior to his other three siblings, whereas child 2 of 4 in that family was fine. In another family I know, it was children 4 and 3 of 5 that were more of black sheep in the family.

My own experience, and because when I get to know someone I ask where they stand in thier sibling lineup, this is generally the average (I know not everyone fits this profile, it's just an overview. Sometimes I think that someone acts like a certain role, then isn't):

Oldest child: most competent, through one-to-one nurturing in their first years, there's something special about the first born, always has been with humans. Parents feel the most pride for this first child.

Youngest child: can feel inferior to older siblings, becuase of everything they've done, has been done before. But, there's no younger children that need taking care of, so parents are more likely to tend to the younger child for longer than others.

Middle child: academically behind the older, and too old to be coddled like the younger, middle child attempts to be one or the other, or different somehow. I'm not saying parents don't care for thier middle children at all, it's just how I viewed my childhood. I believe this is why I acted out and now have green hair.

Only child: Perks of both the older and younger child, recieves nurturing from parents both academically and in homelife for longer than parents with 'divided' attention. Downside, is that they tend much more strongly towards being lonely, struggle more to make friends, from the multiple sibling families growing up with other children around all of the time.

Again, purely speculation. I wondered if anyone else had any thoughts on this, or had at all heard of it. :)

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Posted

I can't speak to being a middle child, but as far as being the eldest, me and others I've spoken with feel like we were essentially guinea pigs. Every fuck-up that could be made was basically made (with the exception of killing us) and the other kids got to reap the rewards of the parents' new-found knowledge of what NOT to do when raising a child.

Not that every child is the same or that the same techniques that work for one will work for the other, but there are definitely far-reaching downsides to being the eldest in addition to whatever pluses exist.

I'm the eldest, the next youngest is 9 years younger, and the 2 after that are nearly 20 years younger..... all by the same batshit insane parents. Because Jesus hates divorce.

While my family's demographics are atypical, the guinea pig factor exists for any first born, even if they're the only child.

Personally, I'm the blackest of the black sheep in my family :)

I'm very curious and also concerned at the same time of what will become of the youngest of us. Heading toward adolescence, they are....they've already been dx with stuff though, so maybe our mother will have the foresight to take them to a therapist when they're trying to kill themselves. (Which I obviously hope will not happen, but at least one of them is already dx bipolar & asperger's and he's only in like 4th or 5th grade..... The other one's almost a teenager and is DDNOS and very obviously probably permanently damaged by the bullshit my parents put everyone through.)

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Posted

I picked middle child, but I'm not sure. I am the 6th of 7 so I'm one of the youngest. I was responsible for looking after my little brother and I would try to protect him when there was arguing. I pretty much was invisible. Quiet and did what I was told. I was an anxious child. I don't think I felt inferior being in the middle, but my father would compare us to our siblings, so I didn't want to do the same thing as any of them so as not to be compared poorly.

I have 2 children, a girl and a boy. They are very different- my daughter, the oldest, is very smart and really moody. It's a pleasure when she's happy, but a lot of times she's irritable or sad. She doesn't like to be touched, can spend a lot of time alone and entertain herself. She doesn't like physical activity, but I try to get her to try sports. She has one best friend.

My son is very loving and likes to hug. He tries and does about average in school. He's usually in a good mood. He wants to be doing something all the time and has many friends. He plays flag football in the fall and spring and really enjoys it. I spend more time with him because he doesn't like to be alone. They are both sensitive. My son developed a nervous tic last school year because of bullying, but he's doing much better now.

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Posted

I'm the oldest of 3. i can tell you each one has their advantages and disadvantages. In my experience, parents are harder on the oldest b/c you're older, you know better, and you're supposed to be an example to your younger siblings. you're also the "guinea pig" so to say. my sister (the middle one) was actually a lot more liked, popular, and successful than me. we're only 22 months apart. In our family, I am definetly the "black sheep" and I'm the oldest, so it just depends, I think it doesn't always necessarily rely solely on birth order. My sister has always been more accepted and popular and such. It really sucked growing up, b/c i felt like i should be, being that I was the oldest (not that she couldn't be, but still) our brother is 9 years younger than me, so there's an age gap there, he's defiently the "baby" of the family in every sense of the word.

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Posted

I am an only child. But I am hugely independent. I could never stand any attention from my parents (and it wasn't negative attention, it was just the fact that they were there).

I left home once at 19, but had to go back (absolute nightmare for me). I could only stay for a few months, though my situation was made even worse by my illness (at a time when I didn't know that I was hearing voices). I left permanently at the age of 20 and cut my parents (well, all my family actually apart from one cousin who has something in common with me - not mentioning this thing for fear of identification) out of my life all together. I now see my parents as merely 'egg donor' and 'sperm donor' and they mean nothing to me. Though obviously I would not wish any harm upon them.

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Posted

I am an only child and I was definitely a more shy, clingy, quiet, isolated kid. I spent a lot of time playing and entertaining myself.

I also think I was more comfortable around adults since I had more experience interacting with my parents than other kids. I don't remember making friends at school being a natural or easy task.

There were times that parents were doting but also more lonely times when parents had had enough kid time, left me to myself and there were no siblings to play with.

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Posted

I'm a middle kid and I believe I have some characteristics of middle child syndrome (feeling inferior, and whatnot). That said, being a child, period, involves its own special brand of hell, no matter where you sit, heh. Growing up is hard to do and etc.

Anna

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Posted

To be honest, I don't know how much stock I would confer on how birth order impacts on child development. While I'm not saying that it doesn't play a role per se, I think other factors like environmental, genetics and overall nurturing matters more. I would probably put more stock on a child's overall environment than their birth order, for instance.

That being said, I'm an only child. I received a lot of attention from both parents, some wanted and some unwanted. I would say that I'm a fairly independent person and I tend not to depend on others.

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Posted

I am the oldest of four. My parents definitely experimented on me, both in child-rearing, and setting expectations. I was also the one who was supposed to make up for my mom's getting pregnant by allowing her to live vicariously through me. That hasn't been so great. My sisters are all glad that my mother fixates on me, but we aren't sure whether it is because I am the oldest, or because of our various personalities.

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Posted

As an only child primarily raised by my mother, I definitely feel more comfortable interacting with adults over some people in my peer group. Growing up, I wouldn't say I was more isolated from other kids my age- but I grew up in a neighbourhood with kids ranging from 8 years younger than me to 3 years older. In a sense, I took on the role of an older sibling in my peer group while growing up. From what I recall, I was the 3rd oldest in the group.

Being an only child is pretty advantageous for me- lots of opportunities to try new things, my mom let me specialise in things early (namely the sciences and martial arts), and getting time alone to myself with my mom.

The one downside to being raised almost solely by my mother is that if she wasn't home and I was bored as a younger child, I got into a ton of trouble because my imagination would take over.

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Posted

I'm the oldest child (of two)... Now I hate my parents, which is pretty telling. I guess my younger brother would see this differently, but I always think that he is the favourite. Actually, my Dad confided to me that he thinks that my Mum doesn't exert nearly as much discipline on my brother as she does on me, and my Mum told me that she thought it was unfair that my Dad preferred my brother because he's not as stubborn as I am, and is MUCH better at sports than me.

Of course, they could never bring this up so we could have nice, open, happy-family communication about it... Hence why I don't believe in happy families anymore.

Oh, and my Dad is a middle child and has classic middle-child syndrome.

N

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Posted

I'm the second-oldest of 5. I always felt "not the same" as everyone on the planet. My parents slotted each of their children in a role which never changed no matter what we did. For example the youngest girl was treated like the "princess" and grew up to be a fashion queen and rich trophy wife.

I was the "scapegoat" or "whipping boy". I got treated with vicious hatred by my mother, and my father beat me at her behest. I grew up to be "different" and the rebel. I smoked both cigs and herb, while none of my siblings did. I got into "punk" dress and music in the late seventies when I was a young teen. Until recently I had green hair. Now it's fire-engine red.

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Posted

I'm the oldest of three, though I am the second oldest if you count my half sister from father's gf. I think I had the most pressure put on me, both to set examples and to succeed. I had the most physical disciplining of the three of us as well. When I crashed and burned at around 17, suddenly all the pressure was off and the pressure coming off so suddenly was more unnerving than relieving honestly. I thought the parents didn't think that I would be able to be successful at anything now and so there was no point in pushing me anymore. Learning to light my own fires under my ass is something that isn't happening easily.

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Posted

I was the oldest, but also the red headed stepchild. I was my mother's only kid from a previous marriage and I was basically never permitted to forget it. I also did way too much parenting for a teenager.

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Posted

I'm right in the middle, the ham in the sandwich. I have an older brother who as a kid caused nothing but trouble and a younger brother who as a kid was clingy and cried a lot. As a result a lot of attention was heaped upon them and I was the good kid who tried to keep the peace and constantly worried.

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Posted

I'm the fourth of five kids (not counting our three older half-sisters, whom I didn't get to know until my later childhood), and the youngest girl.

My family dynamic was a mess. As a result of that, I am still the most responsible of all my siblings, and the one most able to "tough it out" through a difficult or unpleasant situation without losing my cool. But I do have a few middle child traits, I think. I'm the black sheep: the nice, quiet, obedient kid who turned into a flaming weirdo. The person the relatives are talking about when they wonder "what happened." I am also the diplomat of the group, and a bit of a doormat.

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Posted

Only child of a smothering, narcissistic mother and a loving father who was, nonetheless, mostly content to just let my mother go on acting like a crazy bitch all the time, rather than rocking the boat.

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