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Middle child syndrome: Real deal or hogwash?

The oldest child gets the parents' undivided attention, the youngest gets showered with attention because they're the baby and the middle child, according to theory, gets robbed.
Credit: naumoid

As the second-born child, I remember finding my older brother’s baby book with every page filled with adorable photos and loving mommy memories.

When I asked my mom where my baby book was, she admitted she never got around to doing one for me. I was practically scarred for life.

Maybe that’s why I identified with Jan Brady and her “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” rant.


The overlooked middle child has long been the subject of theories and studies and jokes.

Just a few months ago, Prevention magazine published an article about “middle child syndrome” and how birth order affects your personality.

“The first-born gets the privilege of undivided attention until the second child is born,” Personality Psychologist Julia Rohrer told Prevention.

The last-born gets showered with attention because they’re the baby of the family.

And the middle child, according to theory, gets robbed.

Some say that can cause them to become bitter and needy -- but it's not all bad.

Prevention points to studies that show middle children are also likely to be more independent and better negotiators.

Now, a University of Houston professor is downplaying the effects of being stuck in the middle.

Rodica Damian, an assistant professor of social personality psychology, says there’s no evidence to support the all these theories.

Damian studied 370,000 people with families that had three or more children and found no “meaningful differences” between middles and their siblings.

"I don't think there is any scientific evidence to suggest that children of different birth orders actually have different personalities," she recently told CBC radio.

In fact, Damian said, she’s not a fan of the term "middle child syndrome" and thinks the whole idea is a myth.

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