How are middle children different than their siblings? It has long been understood that the “middle child” is in a strange position within the family. Often forgotten, middle kids have to find their place between the eldest – often the “leader” of the siblings – and the “baby,” who is often more coddled and sensitive. When they’re all grown up, how do middle kids fare? Are they more or less successful? What are their skills?
Middle children face special challenges, and that has its downsides. Because they are often neglected within the family, they have lower self-esteem, which can harm their confidence in the long run. They are also sensitive to conflict and tend to avoid it, even when acknowledging conflict is important in a relationship or at work. Because they want everyone to get along, middle children sometimes get stepped on by more powerful personalities, and end up with the bulk of the work during school or work projects.
Despite the problems that arise from being a middle kid, they also have some very unique and beneficial traits. While neglect can cause low self-esteem, it can also motivate middle children to be more independent. They’re good at taking care of themselves and solving problems. Because they’re stuck in between the oldest and youngest, they’re very peer-oriented and have to learn to be excellent negotiators and peacekeepers. They’re driven by a sense of “fairness,” and are able (and willing) to negotiate for the things they want in life, because they’ve never had it freely handed it to them.
There are countless examples of extremely successful middle children. 52% of American Presidents have been middle children, including Abraham Lincoln and Herbert Hoover. Tech giant Bill Gates was also a middle child, as are entertainers Judd Apatow and Anne Hathaway. Obviously, being a middle child doesn’t guarantee vast fame and fortune, but it does prepare a person with some key skills and experiences that can guide them towards success.
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