I have three kids, and in many ways their personalities fall into classic birth order stereotypes, though in other ways my middle child is super special because he’s the only boy. (Example: My oldest is a diligent people-pleaser, while my second is laid back and social. Meanwhile my third rolls through life with honey badger confidence.) A lot of research on birth order also talks about how the middle child’s personality is in part formed by a need to be different from the first kid. Therefore first- and second-borns tend to be very different. This could not be more true in my family.
That said, here are 10 ways you know you’re a middle child …
1. Your parents didn’t pay enough attention to you.
The oldest child was your parent’s pride and joy and the youngest was their precious baby. I know all about it. They got all the attention and you were the afterthought. In fact, I bet that sometimes they even forgot about you or left you places. Remember that time at the gas station when you were 5? Yeah. I thought so.
2. All your clothes were hand-me-downs.
But I’m sure you rocked them anyway. I mean, look at how adorable you were in that watermelon jumper!
3. That whole Jan Brady thing —”Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” — was not actually that funny.
Marsha was a self-important nightmare, and Cindy was a brat. We all know this. Jan is probably not going to do anything to physically express her rage or anything. Probably.
4. Your older sibling got recognized for everything.
I bet the oldest kid in your family had a 3-volume baby book and every perfect report card saved and archived for posterity. Meanwhile, no one remembers when you learned to walk or what year you graduated from high school. That said, painful admission time: my firstborn has a collection of memory books from her first year that my husband refers to as the $1,700 baby book because of all the money I spent on Creative Memories swag back in 2003. My second kid has three or four folders with pictures stuffed into them. My third has whatever I put on Facebook.
5. Your younger sibling got away with everything.
By the time the youngest kid showed up, your parents’ attitude toward rules were slightly more…relaxed. So when you got busy flushing things down the toilet and made it overflow, there was a reckoning. But when your little sibling did it they just shrugged and got the mop.
6. You got blamed for everything.
The youngest kid was all laid back and footloose and fancy-free. The oldest was super responsible. And there you were, getting blamed for everything. Thanks, mom and dad, that was fair.
7. You never got a new bike.
And by the time you were ready to hand down your bike to your younger sibling? Your parents probably decided it was too worn out and bought an actual new bike for them, too. It’s OK to still be bitter, we understand.
8. Who had the most friends? You did.
You may have gotten less stuff or less attention than your siblings but there are some positives to being a middle child! Middle kids tend to have large social circles and lots of friends. Plus, you have a great personality and everyone knows you’re super funny and nice. And extremely attractive.
9. Who was the best negotiator? You were.
Being a middle child also means you intuitively see things from all sides, but know what you want. This makes you an objective and smart negotiator. Think back: Who was the peace-maker between your siblings? Probably you. Who was the one who was able to negotiate a later bedtime or more ice cream? Probably you. And those skills lead to success for middle children as adults. BOOYA.
10. You are flexible, empathetic, innovative, and successful — basically the most awesome person in your family.
All the characteristics that can make being a middle child hard as a kid also make you an independent, resourceful, and happy adult. Did you know that 52% of U.S. Presidents are middle children? So rock on with your bad selves, middle children!
Additionally, research shows that as a parent, your birth order is a huge factor in how you raise your kids. A lot of parents will most readily identify with their child of the same birth order.
According to CBS News:
“A lastborn dad might think his youngest’s antics are cute while mom sees them as irresponsible. Also, firstborns are perfectionists their whole lives. As parents, they may set standards that are difficult for a child to reach. This makes them frustrated and their children unhappy.”
It turns out that middle children make awesome parents, being more likely to value the balance between rules and structure with permissiveness, promoting independent, happy kids. So to all the haters: Middle children are amazing and special both as kids, and then later as parents..