Middle Child Syndrome: Is it Real or Imagined?

| February 4, 2013 | 5 Comments

african mother and children

When you read the title of this article, you probably pulled a chair, relaxed and said to yourself, “this is going to be interesting.” Well, you’re right, it is going to be interesting, but only because middle children are indeed very interesting.

I started my article by doing a Google search and here is one quote I found about the middle child:

“The middle child often lacks drive and looks for direction from the first born child. Sometimes a middle child feels out of place because they are not over achievers and like to go with the flow of things.”http://www.essortment.com/middle-child-syndrome-62872.html

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…. These feelings of emptiness and loneliness make them not very friendly” http://middlechildpersonality.com/middle-child-syndrome/

Really?  Wow! I am a middle child with an older sister and a younger brother, and I remember being plagued by some of these feelings as a child. I often told my siblings that when I was born my parents probably said something like “Oh, it’s a girl again” but rejoiced when my brother was born. “Great, it’s a boy!!!”

Whether real or imagined (and don’t worry I am quite vocal so my parents heard this a lot of times when I was a child), thank goodness we can all laugh about it today. I still point out some of these feelings if I feel like something fishy such as preferential treatment is going on.

But as much as I agreed with some of the descriptions I found on Google concerning Middle Child Syndrome, I was still very disappointed. Low self- esteem, unfriendly, lacking drive? That certainly doesn’t describe me, so who are they talking about?

This middle child will be the first one to admit that I am somewhat of a “complex” human being (I don’t like to use the word complicated) but I attribute that to being an artist (Definition of Artist from Princeton.edu: – a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination. I like that…). But complex does not have to mean negative, it just means a bunch of different things all mixed together to make for something intriguing and unique.

I am a very sociable and friendly individual, and I’m most certainly empathic. I have friends from elementary school whom I still talk to, and I have friends dating back twenty years. I am one of the first to invite the neighbors over. I am driven.  I pursue whatever interests me, and I always set goals for myself. Extreme introversion?  Just ask my family and friends about that. I’m sure they’ll have a good laugh at your expense.

Of course, to debunk the negative, I went on another Google search looking to disagree with the results. I looked at the “good traits” and this is what I found.

This article says middle children have some good traits, many I can identify with. We are independent. We’re good mediators and negotiators.  I definitely “go my own way” sometimes when dealing with rules that don’t seem to add any value to my work or life. And yes, we are innovators and thinkers and, we are “creative”.

http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/202206/kids_and_teens/the_middle_child.html

According to the book, “The Secret Power of Middle Children” by Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann, middle children have strong friendships, marriages, great careers and great parenting skills. I say “Amen” to that!

Statistics also shows that above 50% of middle children are presidents, world leaders both in business and politics, and include such people as JFK, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates and Ernest Hemmingway. Quite an impressive list of middle children.

So what exactly am I saying?  I am agreeing with a Yoruba proverb that roughly translates to mean, “after you’re born, you go through your own rebirth”. I love that. As a middle child, you are not tied down to your childhood, your background or anything else. You have the power to review your life and take responsibility for what needs work and work on that.  I may have middle child traits but I also have traits from both parents. For instance, I call things the way I see them – no sugar coating whatsoever – just like my mum. I’m still working on that. Most importantly, I keep working on traits from my Lord Jesus such as patience.

You can rise above your circumstances and refuse to be stereotyped. After all, there are exceptions to every rule. Seek out what you love to do and do it, and find joy in it, dare to be bold, dare to take risks, live, listen, learn and grow.

I do not have a middle child but, for parents who do, I would apply the rule I use with my own two kids; and that is to love each child the way they need to be loved. Each child is unique, with varying needs. We often pamper the young ones, not knowing that the older ones need this attention too. We need to love our children equally, but if needed differently – same love, expressed in different ways according to their personality so that we can nurture them to grow up to be who they can be.

May God help us all.

About the Writer

Sola Olu is the author of the riveting memoir, The Summer Called Angel. She was born and raised in Nigeria. As a child she loved making up stories and as soon as she could write, she started to put them on paper. She holds degrees in English and Information Systems, works in the retail industry and volunteers as a counselor to mothers of premature babies. Her writings also include essays, poetry and children’s stories.  Sola loves to cook and travel and enjoys the theater. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.

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Sola Olu

Sola Olu

Sola Olu is the author of the riveting memoir, The Summer Called Angel. She was born and raised in Nigeria. As a child she loved making up stories and as soon as she could write, she started to put them on paper. She holds degrees in English and Information Systems, works in the retail industry and volunteers as a counselor to mothers of premature babies. Her writings also include essays, poetry and children’s stories. Sola loves to cook and travel and enjoys the theater. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.

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