6 Things Only Middle Children Understand

Middle children often seem to have a chip on their shoulder; rarely the center of attention in the family, they feel slighted as a result, and carry that with them throughout life. Despite the disadvantages of their birth order, middle children are actually considered to be exceptionally successful, both socially and professionally, when compared with their siblings. (Fun fact: 52% of presidents have been middle children!) Whatever your feelings, it’s probable that you, as the one born somewhere between the others, can relate to the following six things about being stuck in the middle.


Sibling Rivalry

When this writer was 18 months old, her baby brother came into the world. This was not a welcome change, and she refused to speak to her mom for weeks after the day of his birth. This is apparently quite normal for any child who has to make room for a new baby, but it's more pronounced in some ways for middle children who were used to the coveted spot of "baby" before the newest addition to the family came along.

As a middle child, you're in the unique position of being both an older sibling and a younger sibling. This gives you valuable insight and perspective that apparently, according to research, encourage open-mindedness and the development of empathy.

According to author Katrin Schumann, the idea that middle children suffer from low self-esteem is a myth. Rather, she says, they tend to have "accurate" self-esteem, which has actually been proven more beneficial in life than that of the high variety.

According to The Secret Power of Middle Children by Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann, middle children are skilled negotiators because they have to be. While oldest children may have authority granted to them by their parents and youngest children may resort to whining or crying, middle children have to actually successfully argue for what they want from their parents.

The eldest child is always a favorite because they were first, while the youngest child is always a favorite because they were last. This makes you pretty un-special in the scheme of things, so you've had to be resourceful in order to get your parents' attention. To you, the idea that "no press is bad press" probably resonates—negative attention was and always is better than no attention at all.

We're taking some liberties here, and can't actually sight any studies, but our thinking goes like this: You received early exposure to things above your maturity level early by your older sibling, and we all know that the cool people were acting like adults long before they actually were. (With respect to the "fun" adult activities, at least.) You then managed to stay "relevant" through your younger sibling, who always let you know that whatever it was you were into was already out of vogue. This has served you well in life, and as a full-grown adult you may find that your social circle includes people of all ages.