Column: Chisme con Carolina


There are many jokes about how middle children are always overlooked and mistreated, but how much of it truly is just a joke?

The National Library of Medicine conducted a study of 2553 children on self-injurious behavior, suicidal intent, and socially disruptive and threatening behavior. According to the study, birth order was associated with both suicidal and self-threatening behavior, with middle children being most likely to exhibit such behavior. Women were more than twice as likely to have self-injured than men. Middle-child females were also more likely to have attempted suicide.

In 1964, Alfred Adler created a theory on birth order’s role in personality development.

Alder believed the eldest was likely to be more authoritarian and feel powered. The youngest is to be spoiled and babied even if they are constantly told what to do. While the middle child may be even-tempered, they have trouble finding their place in relationships, as they have always been stuck between very different people.

Alder was a psychotherapist. He believed birth order played a role in one’s development. Many find his theory to tie into “middle child syndrome.”

Middle child syndrome is the belief that middle children are excluded, ignored, or flat-out neglected due to birth order.

Both theories focus on the behavior and personality of middle children.

Middle children often have personalities that are overshadowed by their siblings, by having an older sibling that is driven by power and a younger sibling that brings attention.

Relationships can often be a challenge for middle children. They often feel as though they aren’t being seen as equal to their siblings in parental relationships. With the eldest being seen as more responsible and the youngest being constantly cared for, the middle child often finds where they stand a confusing and difficult place.

While middle children might be better at creating romantic and platonic relationships due to their ability to find a compromise and negotiate, they often find they are their own worst enemy. The reason is that since they often felt as though they weren’t heard, they tend to struggle on communicating their own emotions.

Growing up between two others can in many cases lead to rivalry and a natural sense of competitiveness. They are rooted in the feeling of having to constantly work and compete to be given equal attention.

Many jokes exist that middle children are never a parent’s favorite. The oldest are seen as special as they are the first to go through things and create a path. While the youngest is the baby and can do no wrong. The middle falls somewhere in between and is harder ‘to be a favorite’ of either parent.

Middle children grow up and feel like one has to compete for attention and is never the favorite.

In adulthood, middle children are likely to feel as though they may not be their significant other’s favorite person or even someone their best friend prefers. It is due to going through adolescence feeling as though one has to compete for attention and will never be seen as a favorite.

As a middle child, I agree with a lot of these theories and studies.

I am always compared to my older and even younger sisters’ academics. Oftentimes, things I do aren’t for my own enjoyment but for the hope that they will be recognized and appreciated.
I may still be young, and to many, I am still developing, but I can already see how my experiences due to birth order have impacted my mental health.

I struggle to find my place in relationships, and oftentimes they don’t last due to feeling as though I am not enough for someone else.

While some change might have to happen through personal actions, others can help by not just being nice to one another but communicating with others and having constructive conversations and positive structures within relationships.