Yesterday was “Middle Child Day” – another Hallmark holiday invented by some smart marketer out there. (A middle child, perhaps?) But it got me to thinking about the myths surrounding middle children.
Although I grew up in a two-child household and we only have two children ourselves, I still know the stigma of the middle child. He or she is unmotivated, attention-seeking, and insecure. A real “Jan Brady” of the family. But are these myths about middle children true?
There have been many studies that delve into the significance of birth order and below is what has been found about specifically middle children.
According to one study, it does seem that birth order has some significance on individual intelligence. And middle children win out! They were scored higher than last-born kids and even slightly higher than first-born in some cases. So, if you’re a middle child, you’re more likely to be a smarty pants!
Power and resources
Growing up, middle children are often given fewer resources of the parents’ time and energy. The middle child is usually the one who gets the least individual attention throughout their childhood. A common complaint among middle children when the are grown is that they did not get their parents’ attention as often as the other siblings did.
Also, when middles are growing up, they are smaller than their older sibling, yet not protected by their parents like the younger. This situation is likely to teach them to be more agreeable and diplomatic.
Because of fewer resources of the parents’ time mentioned above, middle children are bound to be more independent. When they lack attention, it causes them to turn to their peers, forming very strong friendships. Eventually in adulthood, this independence and ability to form friendships quickly can lead them to living further away from their parents than their siblings.
In one study, it appears that middle children are less likely to get as far as their siblings with education and then will not go as far in their careers. However, more current research says just the opposite. With the independence, social, and empathy skills they gain from their childhood of being in the middle, they are set up for a more successful career. In fact, more than half of the presidents since 1787 were middle children. Not to mention Donald Trump and Bill Gates. It is now thought that middle children may be some of the most successful. (Go middle kids!)
It was found that personality is not determined by birth order alone. (Can’t say that I’m surprised by this finding.) Other influencers such as family size, gender structure, socio-economic status, and upbringing play a part in the child’s personality. So don’t expect your middle child to be a wallflower – she may just surprise you!
Being a middle child creates a situation to learn some advantageous life skills. So don’t worry that you’re setting your middle up for failure by simply having another child later. In fact, you may be setting them up for a more independent and successful life.
Want to read more about having three kids? Check out if having three kids is more difficult than two.Photo courtesy of The Bywaters on flickr.com