The Lifelong Benefits Of Being A Middle Child
Contrary to what many of us thought growing up as a middle child, this birth position is actually a stellar one, giving us lifelong skills that help us navigate our way with friends, at work, and when we become parents ourselves.
Middle kids have longtime been associated with being squished between the first born and the baby, never getting the undivided attention of their older sibling, nor the adoration of the cute little bundle who came thereafter. So where does that leave the middle child? In a great place actually.
Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann, authors of The Secret Power of Middle Children, have discovered that middle children benefit from their birth position in the long run. “They become more independent, think outside the box, feel less pressure to conform, are more empathetic… and they’re successful leaders,” says Schumann. According to their research 52% of our presidents, including Abraham Lincolm and John F. Kennedy, have been middles, along with Martin Luther King Jr., Charles Darwin, and Nelson Mandela.
They’re experienced negotiators and peacemakers
While the oldest demands and the youngest whines, the middle child negotiates. UC Berkeley professor Frank Sulloway’s study on birth order revealed that middle borns learn the art of patience, diplomacy and empathy as a result of finding themselves time and again in the middle of sibling disputes. They know how to see arguments from all sides and make peace with both their older and younger siblings.
They know how to share, compromise, be flexible and adaptable
Middle kids learn how to share and compromise because let’s face it, they rarely have much of a choice, but this skill comes in very handy in later years — at home, with friends and at work. It’s a great lesson on what really matters. Plus, it helps them go with the flow, remain flexible, and navigate a range of social situations with ease and diplomacy.
They’re motivated by justice and social causes
According to Katrin Schuman, middle children “are more oriented to principles and concepts, like justice, over earning power or prestige, such as suffragette Susan B. Anthony and the Polish freedom fighter Lech Walesa.” They are also trailblazers, more open to taking risks and trying new things than their younger or older siblings.
They are comfortable not being the center of attention
When you grow up not being in the spotlight, you’re not fazed when the light isn’t cast in your general direction. Middle children are often at ease doing their own thing, inspiring creativity, innovation, open-mindedness, and an adventurous spirit.
They make great leaders and also team players
Middle children have grown up learning how to manage their way around both older and younger siblings, along with parents whose attention is likely elsewhere. As a result, their social-emotional skills are honed from an early age.
Salmon notes that middle children are particularly adept at “figuring out what the other person wants and needs, and then managing to get them what they want and what the middle child themselves want at the same time. And of course, one of the things middle children often want is peace and calm and for everybody to get along.” These traits are ideal for effective leaders, team players and making lasting friendships.
They’re great with children and make wonderful parents
Oftentimes middle kids help take care of their younger sibling or siblings, especially since their own parents are already overwhelmed tending to three (or more) kids. They get used to being around kids — not only their younger siblings, but also their siblings’ friends, giving them a great introduction to caretaking. Since middle children understand the importance of getting attention and being heard, they often bring this awareness and sensitivity to their role as parents.
I’m number two!
I’ll always be number two in my birth family (we often did a count down to make sure no one was left behind, which did happen every now and then). I’m squeezed between two sisters who remain my close friends, and am the only sibling of the four of us who always shared a room (first with my older, then my younger sister). The bond and connection remain after all these years, and I have my birth order to thank for it. So, the middle is, in many ways, the best spot of all.
Nurture the sibling bond further at storytime