My Daughter Got Demoted From Only Child To Middle Child

birthorderAll the middle children speak up! There’s a reason numerous studies have been done about birth order. It actually matters. I was a middle child and it certainly affected me. We’re often called the ”forgotten” child, or children, because, well, quite frankly, it seems to be that way. I lashed out by always trying to get noticed, and by noticed I mean at school; I always did extremely well, hoping my parents would be proud of me (I know, I was such a rebel!).

My older brother was the superstar, and he didn’t even get awesome grades. He was just the first born and that seemed to be enough in my parents’ eyes that he could do no wrong. By the time they had my baby brother, well, he was the baby, and he could do no wrong either. But my other brother and me? At a recent family dinner, we actually got into a conversation about who my parents loved more. (We’re a very mature family, as you can see.) My middle brother and I looked at each other and said, ”Well, it certainly wasn’t us!”

And this is why I feel badly for my daughter. She has suddenly gone from being an only child to a middle child. This is a very confusing thing to explain, but here’s how it happened: My fiance has two children, ages 13 and 10. Once they were in my daughter and mine’s life, my daughter suddenly became the baby. Which was an okay place to be. There was a lot of, ”Well, she’s younger than you.” And the older kids played with her like she was a doll, dressing her up and watching out for her.

Then my fiance and I decided to have a baby. And we did. And so suddenly my daughter, who went from an only child to the baby in the family, became a middle child. And I have to tell you, looking from the outside at this new position of hers, it does kind of suck to be a middle child. First, it does seem to me that everyone is always yelling at her. When she holds the baby, the older kids are always saying, ”Rowan! You have to be careful!” And, from the other side, when the baby is crying, she feels like I’m not giving her enough attention.

Recently, my fiance’s children and my daughter were in the back seat while we were driving. My fiance and I were up front. My daughter, the middle child now, was actually in the middle seat (irony?). From both sides, she was being yelled at. ”Don’t touch me!” said the older one. ”Rowan, stop leaning on me,” said my fiance’s other daughter. Then they bickered and my fiance said, ”Rowan, sit still.” And I said, ”She doesn’t need three people yelling at her.”

She’s also in a bad position as the middle child because the older children no longer want to play dolls with her and the baby is just a blob who sleeps. When she was an only child, it was just her and me and we played and traveled and basically did everything together. Now my attention has to be divided, so she doesn’t really even have my full attention either. So yes, I feel bad, because I can commiserate about what it was like to be a middle child.

But how badly does it suck to be an only child and then put suddenly in the position of a middle child, which sucks in the first place? She’s not old enough to watch horror movies with the older children. (We tried that once and it was a disaster.) And sometimes I don’t even want her to hang out with the older children, because they teach her about sex and grinding and even blow jobs. Even going to a theme park with rides is a problem because she’s not tall enough, like the older girls, to go on the fun rides. And for an 8-year-old, hanging out with a sleeping baby is fun, for about six and a half minutes.

What’s even harder than her being a sudden middle child is for me, a middle child myself, to watch my daughter in this role. When I talk with the older children, she wants my attention. When I have to take care of the baby, she wants my attention. Often, when the older children are around, she says, ”No one is listening to me.” And, I hate to say it, but it is kind of true. I mean, I’m listening to her, but the older kids don’t all the time.

So, yes, I feel really badly for her. I’ll tell her, ”Yes, it does sometimes suck to be a middle child, but you do have so many more people who love you now.” I also make weekly ”date nights” with her, where we go out just the two of us. I’m not sure how to make the Middle Child position any better. I’m sure firstborns have their own issues and the youngest children have theirs, too. But there’s a reason people say, ”Stuck in the middle.” It’s a sticky place to be.

(Photo: Alena Root/Shutterstock )

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