Why being the middle child is actually the best
You’re your family’s version of Hovis Best of Both
You’ve heard the same old phrase repeated ever since your younger sibling was born: “Oh dear, she’s showing classic signs of middle child syndrome, isn’t she?”
Just because mum and dad decided to go at it again, people think you’re now in No Man’s Land: neither the cherished first born, nor the mollycoddled youngest. If you’re not the eldest then you’re not the leader and if you’re not the youngest then you’re not the baby.
It’s time, though, to put the rumours to rest. Being the middle child is the new cool – and here’s why.
You’re neither the guinea pig nor the runt of the litter
I’m not talking about if you’re one of four and you class yourself as being the middle child because you’re one of the two in the middle. No. This is for all you true middle child-ers out there, the middle of the three, the odd ones out, or, as mum liked to say, “The filling in the middle of the sandwich.” At least she tried.
Your parents don’t have to test anything on you – your older sibling has been the guinea pig for them to project their anxieties on already. Of course she can’t go out past 11pm on a school night. When it’s your turn, though, all you have to do is send a cheeky text “i’M hooooooomME!!! when you stumble in wasted at 3am on Wednesday morning and you’ll be considered a conscientious daughter who wants to let their parents know they’re safe.
You’re also not the runt of the litter. You’ve only got one sibling’s footsteps to follow in, whereas the poor old baby in the corner has two people they’ve got to compete with academically, socially, and aesthetically, too. It’s a hard knock life.
You don’t have to cater to being one parent’s favourite
Take any stereotypical family with two kids: one of them’s bound to be Mum’s fave whereas the other is Dad’s protege. That still rings true in families with three children, but for the middle kid, the world is your oyster.
If your dad’s being a bit of a prick then you can quickly slide over to your mum and take on the role of being her little girl without harbouring any feelings of guilt or disloyality towards your papa – he’s already got his fave child stuck by his side defending him.
Yes, you’re piggy in the middle – but what your parents don’t realise is that the ball is, in fact, in your court.
You can manipulate being the middle child to your advantage
If people naturally assume that you’re a bit broken because you’re the middle child, then you can twist things to make them go in your favour.
Sure, I love telling the story that I’m the only one without a double bed in my family home (I just neglect to say that my younger sister bought hers herself) because it makes me seem pitiable: cue extra presents and attention from those around who “just don’t know how you do it” with three children under the age of five.
If you do something wrong, say, for example, bunking school one day and getting caught, then of course it was just a natural cry for attention because you felt neglected and unloved: you wanted to explore the world and find yourself, when in fact you only made it to Peterborough before Mum caught up with you.
It softens the blow to play the middle child card when anything doesn’t go your way.
Only one time hand-me-downs
You’re so lucky you’re not the youngest of the family who’s got to wear threadbare leggings and shapeless tops after your elder siblings have used and abused them – and just what is that crusty stain on the collar?
You can take fashion advice from your big sister who knows exactly how to model Gap’s last season’s top, and and if you think she wore it wrong? No problem – wear it better.
If anyone buys your elder sister an outfit and it’s too small then heir to the clothes, in a Henry VIII style, comes you – not your baby sibling. You’ll feel very Edward VI as you rock the latest trend while your younger sister throws you jealous looks from across the dinner table. Sucks to be you, sis.
You’re the peacemaker when your siblings argue
“Omg, isn’t she being such a bitch?!” is a frequent message that’ll appear on your Whatsapp, and you’ll sigh yet inwardly smile as you realise that the hour has come again: it’s time to be the hero of the siblings.
You’ll negotiate a peace settling, and suddenly become crucial in the friend-making process as you act as defender and prosecutor for your siblings’ sides of argument in the middle of the living room. You know how to cater to your siblings’ strengths and weaknesses as you watch while they cat-fight from the luxury of the sofa.
Cue being the parents’ favourite for the evening as they wink at you a quick thanks and you realise you’ve helped resolve the argument yet again.
It’s also a good way of knowing where you stand when, as my sisters and I used to do when little, you ask each other who you’d rather drop into boiling lava to check that you’re still the peace-maker and haven’t been embroiled in the chaos.
You get to avoid the ‘what are you doing with your life?’ questions
Your older sibling has to deal with this pretty much on a daily basis, and once you’ve sorted your own plans out it’ll become a nagging situation for the baby of the family, too.
Really, the middle child sets the standards for wagering when you settle down, when you get married and even maybe have children – that is, if you want to do any of these things at all. It’s your older brother or sister who has to face the persistent questioning from family members of when they’re going to get engaged, when they’re (finally) going to move out and stop sponging off mum and dad, all the while you can sit back and plan that gap year post-uni that you want to take.
As soon as you do decide to make solid plans, though, it’ll be onto your little sibling to follow in your footsteps, and the persistent questions nagging them to sort their life out will begin again.
You get to be the middle in photographs
Don’t pretend you don’t like being the centre of attention.
You get to be the older sister and the younger sister, too
It’s lovely to be able to act all tough and bossy when your younger sister is being a little shit. One time my elder sister and I put her in the corner of a room and hid her behind a guitar because she was annoying us and we wanted to play.
It’s also great though, because you can if someone was being horrid to you at school, then your older sister would go and (verbally) beat them up for you.
Mostly, you’re a one of a kind, hybrid sort of child who manipulates and plays being the older and younger sibling off against each other.
So, the people who say middle child syndrome exists? It’s probably because they want to be you.