Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Middle Child Syndrome - Truth or Fiction?

Last week I was speaking to someone I met in town and my Inbetweener was trying his best to interrupt me. This is not like him at all and not something I've noticed him doing before. Whilst I was speaking to this person he was busy trying to tell me about a story he had written. I tried several times to tell him to stop but he kept at it and then he stopped. We went on to finish our shopping and I didn't pay too much attention.

Later that night alarm bells started to go off in my head and the episode from earlier started to really bother me. Is my Inbetweener, my baby feeling left out? I felt sick at the thought of him thinking maybe that I didn't love him, or that I loved the other two more, or was it the Little Fellow - maybe he was a bit jealous? I started to panic that Middle Child Syndrome really does exist and it's not a myth.

My mother told me during my pregnancy to be careful with my Inbetweener once the baby arrived as he then would become the middle child, and often the middle child can feel very left out of the family.

I told her this was nonsense but she was adamant that it existed and believed herself to be a victim if you like of Middle Child Syndrome. She told me that all her life she felt that her older and younger sister got all the attention from her mother, and she felt that she was treated differently.

I've heard her speak about this before and when I look at their situation maybe she has a point, but on a positive note my mother is the happiest out of them all, and she doesn't compete with her other two sisters like they sometimes still do between themselves.

I Googled Middle Child Syndrome and there are so many discussions out there - some say yes it exists and some say no it doesn't. Confused yet? I am. Alfred Alder an Austrian psychiatrist is one of the first people to put it out there that birth order effects the personalities of our children.

Does your position in the family matter? It's possible that it does because when I look at our own family, my parents were always that bit more stricter with me being the oldest than they were with my sister. She got away with many things that I wouldn't have and she got to out to disco's much younger than me, but only because I was there to keep an eye on her. So surely every position in the family carries it's own challenges.

There are many different personality traits assigned to where you fall into in your family, for example first born children are leaders and high achievers, middle child are peacemakers, shy and have low self esteem, youngest children are rebellious and persistent because they receive the most love from their parents.

What stands out here for me most is that my Inbetweener is not shy nor does he suffer from low self-esteem, the only trait that I can see in him that is associated with being a middle child is competitiveness but he has always been competitive and it's not something that's developed recently.

So, here's the thing. I spoke to my son, and explained to him that if I was speaking to someone he couldn't interrupt me like he had done, but when I was finished I would hear all about his story or whatever it is he has to tell me because it's too important for me not to give him all my attention.

I did read his story, it was excellent, 5 and a half copy book pages long - that was a big deal to him being 7 and all. I was a bit worried about the part where he and his friends went for a beer after they won their football match, but in adult world that's real life and what happens on a Saturday afternoon. It was a story after all he told me!!

We had a chat and I assured him that I'm always here to listen to him, he is ok and quite happy. I think I was over-reacting and making a big deal out of nothing.

I don't think that he's jealous because when the Little Fellow was born, my Inbetweener was over the moon and glad to have a brother - not a sister, he helps me to get things like nappies, a vest and when he comes home from school even now he always plays and chats away to his baby brother.

I would hate to think that my little boy, my Inbetweener was feeling left out or maybe was to grow up and think he fell victim to being a middle child. I even feel bad calling him my Inbetweener on my blog, but that's all it is, I would never refer to him directly as that.

So, my conclusion is that I do believe that Middle Child Syndrome exists and has effected many people throughout their lives. From what I have read and when I look at people I know who are middle children it seems to have left a mark on them. I won't dismiss people who say that they are the Black Sheep of the family anymore because that's what they genuinely feel and feelings are important.

For me and my family, the most important thing is being able to recognise it and deal with it should it arise so that all my children feel that they are being treated equally. Sometimes that is not easy with a baby who needs feeding from you and only you, but as parents me and my husband will make sure that none of our children struggle to get the attention and affection they deserve.


  1. What is your view on Middle Child Syndrome? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  2. Interesting to read hear more about this....I was the youngest so didn't experience it. We have two childen right now but always thought we'd have three and I already worry that our current youngest would have middle child syndrome if we have a third child one day! It's so difficult giving enough attention to two children, three must be a lot of hard work. You're absolutely right though, that it comes down to the parents doing the best they can to listen and engage with each and every child, as you have been doing.

  3. Thanks Mummy Zen, so hard sometimes to know if your doing the thing right or not, but as long as everyone is happy that's the main thing and to be aware of what's going on - it's easy sometimes to overlook what's happening when your tired and run off your feet!