How many of you have heard of the “Middle Child Syndrome”? To the uninitiated, it’s a condition whereby the middle child feels neglected or not as loved as their older and younger siblings. A number of psychologists have actually written about this and they classify it as a real disorder and phenomenon. On the other hand, there are people out there who merely view this so-called syndrome as an exaggeration and excuse for the middle child to justify their behaviour.
I remember talking about this topic of discussion a couple of years ago with my ex-colleagues over lunch. Obviously, we each had our own beliefs and reasoning. One of them said, “I think the Middle Child Syndrome is a bullshit term created by kids who feels like the world is against them.” Ouch. Yes, you guessed right, yours truly is a middle child. In retrospect, I cannot remember her exact words very clearly because one, it was 2 years ago and my memory is starting to deteriorate with age, and two, we were talking about it in an extremely hot and stuffy coffee shop and my emotions cannot be relied on when I’m all sweaty and smelly, but it was definitely something along those lines.
Okay, back to the topic. The Middle Child Syndrome exists because it is believed that the feeling of isolation comes from being overlooked and squashed in between two siblings. Naturally, the oldest child will be the pride of the family, the independent and reliable one, the achiever and the leader of the wolf pack, er I mean, siblings. Meanwhile, the youngest is often known as the baby of the family, the spoiled one, the one who is constantly fussed about and the one who gets away with everything. And what do us middle kids get? We apparently misbehave to get attention, are rebellious, are more independent and have the most different personality in the family.
I completely agree that while birth order has a say in determining the characteristics of a child, their upbringing and relationship with their family is of utmost importance. Hence, the Middle Child Syndrome exists but it certainly does not apply to every middle kid in a family. But being a middle child myself, I have admittedly experienced the syndromes of well, the Middle Child Syndrome. To reinstate my point, I have also witnessed that many of my friends and cousins who are middle kids share personality traits similar to mine.
I once read that the ideal way to avoid the Middle Child Syndrome is if the middle kid is of a different gender from both their older and younger siblings. For instance, an older boy, a middle girl and a younger boy will ensure that each child has their own specialty and expectations from the family. The trouble starts if the middle kid shares the same gender as either one of their siblings because that’s when they are most likely to be overlooked.
Unsurprisingly, I belong to the latter category. Yes, there are days where I feel like I don’t belong and I am in no way similar to both my siblings. They are both comparable in many aspects like their appearance, attitude, personality and social demeanours. What about me, then? Well, all I can say is, I stand out like a sore thumb. And I am not blowing my own horn nor am I putting together a pity party. You can ask any of my relatives and close friends. They will tell you that I might as well have been adopted and I am actually direct quoting a friend who said that.
When all is said and done, I don’t regret being a middle child. I mean, yes it has its downsides, but it has its perks as well – if you choose to look at it that way. The Middle Child Syndrome played a huge part in shaping who I am today. I’ve learned how to speak out, be tougher, be more independent and not let petty things like siblings, pfft, get to me. So to all the middle kids who have experienced the Middle Child Syndrome, this one’s for you.