It’s long been thought that middle children – those born in between older and younger siblings – drew the short straw.
Neither the adored first nor the indulged last, they grew up resentful and lacking confidence.
But according to new research, ‘middles’ are far more blessed and successful than previously thought.
Studies show first borns are healthier, taller, richer and happier than later-born children, but middle-borns have other qualities that equip them equally well for a good life.
Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect: What The Bonds Among Brothers And Sisters Reveal About Us, reports that when teens are involved in car accidents, the first person an oldest or youngest child calls us usually a parent, while a middle is likelier to call a friend. This shows middle children often build deeper and wider social networks than other siblings.
He says middles are both mentors and mentored, advice givers and advice seekers.
‘Managing up and managing down are very different skills, and it’s a valuable person who excels at both. Flexibility is important in friendships — there are times to be the dominant part and times to cede that role to someone else,’ Jeff says.
Other researchers say the apparent disadvantages middle children face can be beneficial equip them with empathy, independence and creativity.
Katrin Schumann, co-author of The Secret Power Of Middle Children, says some highly successful people have been middles, including Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates, while stars such as Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway showcase the creative abilities of middles.
Katrin says the skills gained by middle children prepare them well for life.
‘Trials such as having to speak up to ensure are not ignored are good preparation for adulthood.’
She added that their ably to another person’s point of view makes successful relationships.