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Middle Child Syndrome And Me

Updated on January 13, 2013

Why Can't Everyone Just Get Along?

Middle children are very unique and the most difficult to figure out when it comes to birth order factors and impacts on people. Being the second of four children myself, I can definitely relate to some of the characteristics that are true for most middle children. Middle Child Syndrome does exist. Middle children tend to...

  • be mediators who are good at compromising in a diplomatic way.
  • have many friends despite being loners.
  • be loyal to their friends and life partners.
  • feel left out. The oldest get attention as developmental phases and events are always a first and new to the parents. The youngest get attention because they are the baby of the family.
  • Struggle with identity issues.

With these tendencies, middle children end up being extremely mysterious and often exhibit contradictory characteristics. According to Dr. Kevin Lehman, an expert in birth order psychology, middle children find themselves in inconsistent paradoxes.

Middle children are:

  • quiet and shy loners...yet sociable, friendly and outgoing. This is so true. From experience, I can say that as a middle child, I can totally relate to this point. I am a person who has a tough time getting to know new people and meeting new friends. I am extremely shy and quiet and tend to like to spend spare time alone. On the flip side, once I get to know someone or a group of people, I get a kick out of spending time with them. I don't mind being the life of the party if I know everyone already. This paradox rings the loudest for me on this list.
  • impatient and easily frustrated...yet laid-back and go with the flow. True for me. I get very impatient with people when they are late. I get impatient with people who are not efficient and don't have systems in place. I get easily frustrated when I cannot complete a simple task. On the flip side, I can also be the most laid-back person on earth. I can sit through hours of a foosball tournament my husband is playing in some bar, when I don't even know anyone nor do I drink. On a group trip, I can sit back and go with the flow, doing, eating and seeing whatever the rest of the group wants. It all just depends on the situation.
  • very competitive...yet easy-going. Kinda, sorta me. I am pretty easy-going, but not very competitive at all. I don't care if I win or lose, it's all about the experience and process. I suppose I am competitive with myself, always thinking I can do better at various things in life. For the most part, however, I am not really very competitive with others. This would be the paradox that is least like me on this list.
  • rebels...yet make good, peaceful mediators. Definitely me. If you were to ask my mother, I was definitely the rebel in the family. Being the middle child, second behind my sister, I was always trying to be different. This didn't fare well with my mother as she was always telling me I should be more like my sister, the straight-A, I-can-do-no-wrong sibling that made it hard for the rest of us. My sister loved to read, so I tried hard not to. My sister loved to practice piano, so I tried hard not to. My sister studied hard, so I tried hard not to. As an adult, however, I am constantly mediating. My colleagues and subordinates are constantly coming to me either ask for advice or ask for a mediation. They know that I am fair, stay objective, and end up helping them come up with compromises. Again, that middle child in me that just wants everyone to get along.
  • aggressive...yet avoid conflict. I would like to think this isn't me, particularly with the aggressive part. And yes, I do try to avoid conflict. My husband, however, would disagree and say that I can get verbally aggressive. He often tells me that when I am "venting" about work or something inane I witnessed, he feels like I am yelling. I see it as part of the passion I have in me coming out in what he perceives to be a yelling tone. In all seriousness, this is rather true, I guess. I do try my best to avoid conflict, although I'm getting better at doing and saying what is right rather than not confronting people or the situation.

When I think of these five inconsistent paradoxes presented by Dr. Lehman and I apply them to my experiences, they are so, very true. Middle children are, indeed, mysteries.

I Don't Care...

Middle children come across to others as not caring or indecisive. This is simply a misunderstanding. Middle children are not wishy-washy...when they say they don't care, it simply means that they would like the other person to decide. It also does not mean that they don't want to take responsibility for making the decision. They truly just want the other person to decide. This may very well be the result of the fact that middle children are pulled from many directions, into many directions. When it comes to sibling spatters, the oldest children want the middle children to side with them, as do the youngest. When the oldest children are in trouble and need a shoulder to cry on, they turn to the middle children, as do the youngest. When the oldest children are in trouble, they want the middle children to vouch for them, as do the youngest. In the end, these middle children are so tired of taking sides that they end up taking no sides...with no opinions...coming across as not caring.

Middle Child Syndrome actually does exist. Although not all middle children exhibit the personality characteristics of a middle-born child, many do. Because the oldest or youngest are usually the parent favorite, middle children generally don't get the emotional support they need during the prime growing-up years.

Some Famous Middle Children

  • George H.W. Bush
  • Ted Kennedy
  • Donald Trump
  • Julia Roberts
  • Madonna
  • Barbara Walters
  • Bill Gates

Where Do You Fall In Birth Order?

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    • profile image


      17 months ago

      i have middle child syndrome being the 2nd born of 3 and it's not a joke that people can always make fun of.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Good hub. The middle child is the most ambiguous of all birth orders. People just do not understand middle child. The middle child is the least individualized of all birth orders-they are never appreciated for their individual selves-they are either someone's older and/or younger sibling.

      The middle child is the SECOND most maligned birth order. The middle child is always in a quandry- think of Jan Brady, the quintessential middle child in THE BRADY BUNCH. She always unappreciated and ignored. Her famous mantra that it is always Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. Oh, how sad!


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