17 Things You Only Know if You’re a Middle Child
Sometimes it's fun not being number one.
When it comes to birth order, middle children are hardly the ones, well, on top. While the oldest child takes on the leader role and the youngest is the coddled baby of the group, the middle child is typically relegated to the back of the pack. However, there are still plenty of perks that come with being smack dab in the middle. So, in honor of Middle Child Day on August 12, we’re rounding up all the things only a middle child would know.
You’re more emotionally stable.
Being the middle child comes with a lot of stereotypical skills such as patience, negotiation, and mediation. But did you know that birth order might play a part in mental health as well? According to a 2013 study published in the Social Psychiatry journal, being the middle child makes you less likely to develop emotional disorders and ADHD.
You’re naturally destined for great things.
If you’re a middle child, you likely have some big things comings your way. It’s true! According to research by Katrin Schumann, author of The Secret Power of Middle Children—52 percent of American presidents are actually middle children. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy? All middle children.
If you’re dating or married to a middle child, you should be pretty secure in your relationship. In her 2003 study on birth order and relationships, researcher Catherine Salmon found that 80 percent of middle-born children claimed they had never cheated on a partner, compared to only 65 percent of firstborns and 53 percent of last-borns.
You’re a leader, not a follower.
Middle children would rather be unique than try and act anything like their older siblings. Why? According to Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book, that goes hand in hand with a middle child’s need to find ways to stand out.
“Once a role is filled by the firstborn, the second-born will seek out a role that’s completely the opposite,” Leman told Parents. “If the older sibling is a parent-pleaser, the middle child might rebel to get attention. The middle child is the hardest birth order to categorize, but whatever traits he develops play off the firstborn.”
You’re a natural meditator.
If you’re the middle child, you often spend time literally being stuck in the middle—negotiating fights between your younger and older siblings. The good news? According to middle-born actress Jennifer Garner, it all pays off in the end.
“I am the model middle child,” Garner told Parade. “I am patient, and I like to take care of everyone.”
You rarely won a fight with your siblings.
Being a middle child, you rarely have anyone on your team when it comes to sibling fights. Your parents’ advice was always the same: Respect your older sibling, and be nice to your younger one.
Unfortunately, though, this lack of ever “winning” can have detrimental effects on a middle child. According to research from Northwestern University, second-born child—especially boys—are more likely to become troublemakers or act out in delinquent behavior than firstborns.
But you got away with more.
Though as a child you never really won a fight and sometimes even felt invisible, the upside to this was that you could often get away with more.
“As the middle child, my parents have always been too busy wondering what my little brother was getting into and too focused on keeping my older brother out of trouble,” blogger Sebastien Gaudin told HuffPost. “Just by default, I was the one given a tad more freedom.”
You were always mistaken for your younger and older siblings.
Even if you looked nothing like either of your siblings, as a child, you still managed to be referred to as both. Teachers would mistake you for the older one and family friends would confuse you for the baby of the group. And unfortunately, this seemingly harmless mixup can actually lead to the lack of identity and feelings of inadequacy that are often referred to as “middle child syndrome.”
Your parents awkwardly introduced you.
No introduction is quite as awkward as the one given for the middle child. After all, your parents can introduce your other siblings simply by saying “this is my oldest” and “this is my youngest,” but what can they say for you? You’re just… the middle one. Sadly, that just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
You always had to share a room.
If you’re the middle child, then you’re probably used to no room actually being your own. Before your younger sibling came around, you were typically relegated to rooming with your older sibling. And once they were deemed “too old” to be sharing a room, you were then bunked up with your younger sibling.
You loved it when your older sibling was gone.
It was always a good day when your older sibling wasn’t around because that meant there was a new sheriff in town: you. As much as you’d never admit to wanting to be the oldest sibling, it was nice to play pretend for a day or so. And, unfortunately for your younger sibling, you never took that job lightly when you got the chance.
You learned to stand out.
Seeing as you were given the short end of the stick when it comes to birth order, you had to be quick to learn how to make a name for yourself. As Richard Cash wrote in an op-ed for Free Spirit Publishing, middle children often turn to becoming the “class clown” in order to stand out.
“Some clowns just want to be seen! As a middle child myself, I was always doing things just to be seen and heard,” he wrote. “That is one of the biggest reasons I went into theater: I wanted to be on stage. The attention seeker will do funny things to get recognition or stand out from the crowd.”
You tend to lean more creative.
Whether it’s acting like Cash or writing like Charlotte Brontë, middle children are also more likely to become successful creatives.
“Far from being doomed to failure and loneliness, middle children are more likely than their siblings to be successful and enjoy strong social lives and flourishing careers,” Schumann wrote for The Daily Mail. “The apparent disadvantages they endure in childhood turn out to be beneficial, in many cases giving them the attributes of empathy, independence, articulacy, and creativity.”
The middle seat is no fun.
While there are a lot of hidden perks that come with being the middle child, one thing that’s not so fun about being the second-oldest and second-youngest is having to sit in the middle all the time. Your older sibling was “too big” for it and your younger sibling was too precious, so every long car ride left you uncomfortably smushed in between the two.
You’ve heard all the pop culture references you can take.
The Brady Brunch’s Jan and Stephanie from Full House are just two of the stereotypical fictional middle children you were always compared to. On TV and in movies, middle children are often portrayed as forgotten or left out, and, as much as you don’t want to admit it, you could relate.
You’re a dying breed.
If you’re a middle child, you don’t have to be told twice that you’re special. But as it turns out, middle children are actually becoming rare statistically as well.
According to the Pew Research Center, by the late 1970s, the average mother had given birth to three or more kids, and thus had a middle child. However, by 2014, the survey notes that the “once-dominant four-child family [had] been replaced by the two-child family.” With most families now only having two kids, middle kids are actually on the verge of extinction.
You know the good stuff is always in the middle.
Oreos, Boston Creme doughnuts, stuffed cheesy bread—what do they all have in common? Their best parts are in the middle! So don’t fret over being the middle child, because more often than not, the middle is the place to be. And for more information that’ll help you stand out, here are 150 Random Facts That Will Make You the Most Interesting Person in the Room.
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