When I am not living at Penn State University as a full time student, I live with my father, my older brother and my younger sister. My siblings and I are all roughly a year apart, and I am the middle child. Everyone always jokes about how being the middle child is so tough. People say that they are overlooked; That they do not receive the respect, and trust like the oldest, nor the babying that every little sibling cherishes. Growing up in such a tight family I noticed this every once and a while, but it was never too severe where I felt the need to point it out. But I did always question if this sensation I would feel was something common. It turns out that it is actually a normal feeling among middle children, and it is called “Middle Child Syndrome”. When I read that it was actually a thing, and that it was common, I decided that this blog was a perfect excuse to research this topic.
The simplest explanation of the phenomenon known as “Middle Child Syndrome”, is that it is a sense of isolation felt by the middle child. It is said that middle children do not fit a specific role in the family, which is more than likely the cause of this sense of exclusion. Every child in every family has a job. For example, my brother was almost like my second father. He cooked, cleaned, and was just an overall a reliable person. His role was to always be a leader, and responsible. On the other hand my sister just sat back and had everything done for her. That is obviously a hyperbole, but it seemed that way. My brother and I would drive her to practice, help her with school work, and sometimes even do her laundry whenever my dad was too busy with work. And there I was; In the middle of both of them. My brother would cook for me making me rely on him, but I would also help my sister with anything she needed. So where does that leave me?
I always wondered what actually causes this feeling of not having a particular role in the family. Was it simply just being the middle child? Or was was it jealousy of not being old enough to be the most responsible, nor young enough to be the least responsible? In this article, it explains that there are two main causes of middle child syndrome.
1.) Lack of Support – The article declares that the middle child feels overlooked. This sense of not being noticed causes them to subconsciously feel like they do not have anyone supporting them. Since they have “no support”, and are “over looked”, they feel as if they are not valued. And without that feeling of value, they are not going to identify to a specific role in the family. With this being said, they are more likely to be quite, timid, introverted, have low self-esteem, and be independent. All of these qualities can easily cause the child to feel like they are without a role in their family or that they do not need a role.
2.) Identity Crisis – The article also states that the middle child is unsure of who they truthfully are. This seemed obvious to me, since middle children are known to have have low self-esteem, and to be withdrawn. This also relates back to the fact that they feel like they do not have a role in their family.
With the middle child having trouble identifying who they are, and a lack of support, there is no surprise that they feel excluded. In most cases parents do not even notice that they are causing this feeling nor are they doing it on purpose. Only way to counteract this is for the middle child to express how they feel; And possibly how this feeling can be prevented later on. From all of this, I learned a lot. I learned why, I would feel excluded. Also how to possibly work towards not feeling isolated anymore. But most importantly, I learned that this sensation is normal.