Don’t Forget the Middle Man: Avoiding Middle Child Syndrome

Growing up, I didn’t have much experience with middle children. My family only had two kids; I was the older one and the only girl. I always had plenty of attention and support and, well, the label “spoiled” may be thrown around now and again when describing my treatment.

However, as a parent I sometimes feel a little lost and inadequately prepared when it comes to making sure that my children are all given everything they need, especially when it comes to my Middle Man.


I have four amazing children. My oldest is our princess. She is a great athlete, a talented artist, and the first grandchild on my side of the family. She gets lots of attention and love and special girl time. My youngest children came together. If you’ve ever seen twins out and about, I’m sure you’ve seen people stopping to chat and look at them (if you haven’t done so yourself). Who can blame anyone? Kids are cute, and when there is two of them, they are somehow extra cute. Our babies, who are three and not actually babies anymore, get some extra attention because they are home with me all day while their siblings are at school. Also, they are the last babies. You always savor that time with the babies a little more, because you won’t get to have that again.

Now somewhere in between the Princess and the Twins is my Middle Man. He was my first baby boy, and we got to spend two years of special time before his brothers were born. Once the Twins joined the party though, it became much harder to give him that special time.


My Middle Man is now six. He goes to school all day and participates in some sports. His favorite things are trains and building things. He has the sweetest personality and loves to cuddle. He’s usually pretty easy going and laid back, but when he has something important to say, he makes sure he is heard. He also has the greatest blond curls you will ever see. I have to remind myself every day that he needs some special Mommy time too. Even if that means I just sit down on the couch with him for a few minutes to talk about a thing he saw on TV, or go downstairs and watch him build a train track all around the basement.

I never want him to feel like he is forgotten or overlooked.


One term that I hear thrown around a lot is “Middle Child Syndrome.”

If you do a quick web search of “Middle Child Syndrome,” you will get hundreds of links and references to it. It boils down to this: middle children feeling overshadowed and invisible. They feel like they aren’t that special oldest child and they aren’t the sweet baby of the family, so they are lost in the middle and aren’t sure what they are supposed to be. Middle children can be more vocal so they are heard, and they tend to be more flexible so they can work with their siblings’ schedules. They are the peacemakers for their siblings, and tend to have large social circles. Sometimes middle children act out so that they can get the attention that they feel goes towards their siblings.

They feel like they aren’t that special oldest child and they aren’t the sweet baby of the family, so they are lost in the middle and aren’t sure what they are supposed to be.

I don’t know about you, but reading all of that makes my heart hurt. It also makes me look at our lives and realize that my Middle Man has had to deal with all of that. He is toted around to his sister’s soccer practices and games all week long. While there, he usually has to entertain himself so that the grown-ups can pay attention to what skills we need to work on at home. He also tends to have to wait if he needs something when I’m dealing with the twins. Thank goodness he learned patience quickly when they were babies, because sometimes I can get a little overwhelmed with two little people demanding things from me.

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Being a mom to four crazy kids can be busy and exhausting and frustrating, but it can also be the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s an adventure that makes me happier than I ever thought possible. Getting to experience all of their personalities is a rollercoaster ride every day. Trying to make sure that they all get attention and feel loved is my most important job, and one that I fret over every day. I really do hope that when they are grown up, my kids can look back and know that Mom tried. I cherish every minute I have with them, especially the one-on-one time. We may have a Middle Man, but our family is going to work hard to make sure that he comes out with only the positives of being a middle child.

Does your family have a Middle Man? How do you make sure that they don’t feel lost in the shuffle?



Ashley Breinholt
Ashley is an Iowa transplant from Arizona and a busy mom of 4. She spends most of her day chasing around her little herd and hoping to catch a glimpse of her main squeeze when he gets a break from the hospital. She has a bachelor's degree in Communication from Arizona State University and is currently the Vice President of Iowa Medical Partners where she helps plan events and service projects and runs the blog. In her free time, Ashley enjoys running, reading, cooking, and decorating (and redecorating) the house. She loves everything about Iowa! She and her family like to explore everything that Iowa has to offer in every season. Life may be crazy but she loves every minute of it!


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