I have a child that suffers from "middle-child-syndrome"

Maryna - posted on 01/24/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )




Could someone/anyone give advise on how to handle my daughter(aged 14). She feels neglected, and says its because she is the middle child. I sometimes think I suffer more from it than her. She is totally different in character from her other sibling/older sister. Sometimes i just want to throw in the towl, and then i remember that she is only 14 and lost...


View replies by

Don't You Dare Say You - posted on 08/06/2014




This is an old post, but I found it deeply troubling so I'm going to reply anyway. If your relationship has improved throughout the years since you last posted this, then Congratulations, you have succeeded in being a really good mom. If not, I'm not saying you're a bad mom, but you're a typical one -- the one who ignores your middle child.

She's probably 18 now, and that's the same age as I am. (No, I'm not a mom. Just found this website by chance.) And I'm also a middle child. So...
Warning: This may sound like a mean and angsty post, but it may be exactly how your daughter has been feeling for the past 18 years and she has not been able to express it to you.

Point is, it is precisely (emphasis here: PRECISELY) this sort of mindset that culminates in this thing called the "Middle Child Syndrome". If you haven't been too busy self-pitying yourself, go look it up.

Ask your daughter to read this even. Ask her how she feels.
And, for once, just once, take the time to understand her.
While we humans cannot control the order of birth, the parents should put in the extra effort and not say that you wish to give up as "she is only 14 and lost". Why is she lost? You can't say you want to give up when you have never ever really tried getting to know her. She is a unique individual, and instead of possibly getting mad at or even ignoring this post, you ought to think about it seriously,

Just for one moment. Love her.
This is the desperate plea of middle children.
If you ignore this, you'll have no right to complain that you lost attachment to her for the rest of your life.

Gwen - posted on 01/25/2010




I'm a middle child, so I can relate. Especially in the early teen years. I had an older brother who was "special" because he was in the military and a younger brother who was "special" because he was the all-star athlete. This didn't mean I was equally "special", but it was hard for me to see because the boys seemed to get all of the attention. Help her to see the wonderful things that make her unique from her siblings. Spoil her sometimes, encourage her and spend some one-on-one time doing special things (that only she gets to do).

On the other hand, you do still need to be firm in your guidelines and rules. I, for one, found plenty of trouble to get into at 14! My parents didn't know what was wrong with me at times, all the more reason to stand your ground. My parents mean the world to me. She may not admit it, but your love probably means more than you'll ever know.

A lady at church said one day "That's the funny thing about teenagers..just when you think you'll never survive, you wake up one morning and they're adults!" Hang in there!

Maryna - posted on 01/25/2010




Thank you very much for all this info. For some reason my daughter is comparing herself to round-about-everyone. I seem to be the only one not understanding her :-( I feel so sorry for her, cause i can see her drowning in whatever it is (for that specific day) sometimes it's "i'm too fat"; "nobody likes me", and no matter how often i tell her that she is beautiful and that the other girls are just jealous of her brains and beauty, she seems to rather bellieve the masses instead of me; and this makes me feel so useless. At one point she showed that she was interested in athletics(and did quite well for a first-timer) she stopped that because I pushed her too much. All i did was encourage her, in her strenghts, and tried to shut out the negatives. Now she refuses to do athletics. All she seems to want to do is watch M-TV, mixit on her cellphone(alone in her room) and spend a lot of time ALONE in her room. She does not even attempt to come outside and spend time with us as a family around the pool. She is convinced that she wants to study drama when she leaves school- and I pointed out to her that she can not even stand up in class and do a speech, or even participate in the school plays. No nasty words, and she attached me verbally by saying that all I can do is critisize her, and that she is not sure if this was positive or negative critisism. The hormonal thing is also an issue, as she seem to be talking to a lot of boys (3-4 years older than her) on mixit; and when i tried to explain to her that they might only have ulterior motives for talking to her, she again exploded and accused me of not trusting her. Problem is- I know some of these boys and they tell me that she is actually flirting with them? what's to be done now? What do I do when she back chats me on everything I say? She seems to think that she has to have the last say when there is a conversation. She shows no respect for her peers, grand parents or even her dad and myself. She despises her younger brother and he hates her guts too. Ugh this is like a nightmare movie .. all on its own. ONE thing I am sure of is that I do love her very much, and will love her till the day I die. But will that be enough? Thanks you guys, for making me admitting this.

Sharon - posted on 01/24/2010




I don't have a middle child.

I have my oldest son, my younger son and my youngest or my daughter.

See a counselor.

Michelle - posted on 01/24/2010




Listen to Claire! lol. I am a middle child and went through what your daughter is going through now. Sometimes you have to ignore her rants..more so when shes angry with you. Then once the angers passed you try talking to her and ask her to tell you whats going on and why she was mad. If she doesnt want to talk just say 'well im downstairs if you wanna come tell me'. If shes crying and upset about something just hold her and hug her. She needs to know you love her just as much as the others but we middle children need 'more' cuddles. Were very much the 'thinkers' and think and worry alot.

Its to do with hormones too so talk to her about her changing body and that its ok to feel the way she does, but its not ok to treat people the way she does just cause shes angry or upset. She will learn this in time...and she probably knows it already, but teenagers want everything to go their way. My sister was the organist, the A* student, my little sister was the A* student and was brill at sports. Me: well I wanted to be all these things, but I thought to much about things, and my attention could never stay on one thing. I practised organ, violin, trumpet I was on the netball team, the football team, hockey..you name it I joined but I just got bored..I still do, Ive had 8 cars since I was 17, just cant keep them for long, I have to get a new pushchair every frew months...seriosly I dont have an OCD lol or ADHD anything like that, I Just simply get bored.

Your daughter may feel like she hasnt found her 'niche' just yet. Something she really loves doing. Mine was dancing! I found this when I was 13, but after a few months thought it wasnt as good as I thought it was, so was gonna quit, but my dance my PE teacher knew I danced outside of school so she asked me to take the lesson one afternoon! I had to do an aerobics class to music. And from this day on I knew what made me happy. I stuck with it, and when I was 15 my dance teacher asked me to perform with her at a show, I also taught classes, performed at major venues and didnt actually quit until I was 19 and fell pregnant. It was an escape route to how I was feeing in real life...I could express my emotions through dance instead of at people. Maybe you should really show interest in something your daughter does. Having my family come to watch me in dance shows was brilliant, made me so happy. We just wanna be loved to the extreme lol.

Though we are the people that always think of others when it comes to their emotions, like my dad was an idiot, and ,my nan used to have a go at him for it, he was nasty to me etc...but still Id stick up for him cause I could see the hurt and shame on his face and it made me feel bad. We always wanna make others happy. I still do :)

Seriously take time for her, do girly things, like go shopping just you and her. I loved it when my mum did this. And when she couldnt care less how I was feeling somedays I would go hang out on the streets in aorks etc with my 'mates whi took drugs..you know the story. I NEVER did what they were doing, I had a good head on me, but it was just a way of being a part of something. But please dont let it get this far...through this I met my ex and lost my virginity at 15 cause 'he loved' me bla bla...just keep stong, reinforce discipline and dont let her get away with being nasty and all that...shel thank you for it when shes older. :)

Claire - posted on 01/24/2010




First, my sympathies - hang in there, mom!

Consider that your teen is just not happy with herself, period! I suspect that she is fully aware of her older sister's elevated status, even if you have never let on. These kids are habitually comparing themselves and judging themselves over what they are NOT. I've just come through depression and mild eating disorder behaviors with my younger daughter. It was scary!

I recommend that you build - on faith - a description of your 14 year old that she wants to live up to. It has to be built on reality - you have to know her well enough that she can see what you are saying is true. So, have her take a personality profile so she can see that she is not alone in the weirdness that she feels. Talk with her about the results, and how you appreciate her uniqueness. Explain how these characteristics are going to help her navigate life. But, also point out the weaknesses that you see - which she can't blame on birth order - and what the consequences of those might be FOR HER SAKE. There are tests out there with various analyses available, I suggest finding a Christian counselor to help make that choice. However, beware that she may actually use the test to judge herself and feel overwhelmed. Tread slowly and carefully. Cynthia Tobias has a book entitled, ""The Way They Learn", which is an excellent start for understanding your daughter's unique personality and outlook on life.

I am making alot of assumptions here because you gave so little information on your family dynamics. Is your family going through a crisis of any type? Being 14 is a crisis all its own, but if other family members are constantly talking down to this one - or anyone else in the family - that critical spirit is going to be caught and exaggerated in this daughter. How does the older sister treat her? What is the relationship with the younger child? You need to help Miss 14 see beyond herself, get her involved with someone she feels sympathy for, and help her to learn empathy for others. Take her to a nursing home and talk about the feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and uselessness that those seniors may be feeling. Suggest an action that she can do to help alleviate the problems she sees.

What are her interests, something that she wants to be good at? Show her that you care about who she wants to become - even if she is just experimenting with ideas, that is typical of this age, try not to freak out over it. Basically, a 14 year-old does not know how to think right. While the brain has stopped growing, it is still going through a reorganization period until around 15. As much as she is probably pushing your limits and her boundaries, you need to reman convinced that she still very much needs your wisdom and protection. Talk, talk, and talk some more. Teens do listen even when they don't seem to be, so keep talking even when they tell you to shut up and walk away. Defend your every step, so that she can see that you are thinking carefully with love and concern for her. Even if she does not seem to "receive" it, emotionally she needs and appreciates it (however deep down it may seem to you).

So, hope this helps or at least encourages you. God bless!

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms