From Jan Brady to Malcolm in the Middle, the peanut butter of the child sandwich has always been portrayed as having unique crises and special problems. Middle children get a bad rap—they’re often stereotyped as the black sheep, overlooked by parents and overshadowed by older and younger siblings. But certain middle child personality traits give them special, badass hidden powers.
In celebration of Middle Child’s Day on August 12, we celebrate the Jans and the Malcolms for their fearlessness and sometimes edgy rebellion. For so long we’ve seen the characteristics of middle kids in a negative light, but as Katrin Schumann, co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children, writes, “Contrary to expectations, middleborns are agents of change in business, politics, and science—more so than firstborns or lastborns.” To help you delve into the middle child personality, we’ve come up with 12 reasons middle children are total badasses.
1. Middle children feel less pressure to achieve than firstborns
Parents place extra focus on their first child and once the third one comes along, the middle child has more space to come into his or her own. Middle kids aren’t expected to be the role model and they aren’t being babied as the youngest so they have more freedom to cook up experiments in the corner.
2. Middle children are more independent than firstborns and babies
First-time parents tend to be extra careful and protective. With baby number two they’ve learned to trust their instincts and are more willing to let go a bit. By the third child, they’re beginning to realize how fast kids grow up so they’re ready to do more coddling.
3. Middle children tend to be open-minded
Because they’re less likely to view the world in terms of hierarchy, middle-borns are more open to ideas and suggestions from a variety of sources.
4. Middle children are master negotiators
Often overshadowed by the older sibling’s bluster and the younger sibling’s whining, the middle-born learns the art of negotiation early on. One of the most useful middle child personality traits is the ability to make sure everyone’s needs are met while getting what they want too.
5. Middle children make well-adjusted adults
Since the only reality they’ve ever known involves having to share and compromise with a sibling, they develop a sense independence and awareness of how to coexist peacefully right from the start.
6. Middles are trailblazers
Schumann tells Psychology Today, “Middles are more likely to effect change than any other birth order. This is because of the combination of risk-taking and openness to experience leads to a willingness to try new things.” Middle child Madonna is a perfect example.
7. Middles are good listeners
Listening goes hand in hand with negotiating so middle children tend to have more patience and empathy than their younger and older siblings.
8. Middles are great leaders
More than half of our presidents have been middle children, not to mention Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.
9. Middle Children Know How to Stand Out
Being stuck in the middle forces them to come up with creative ways to stand apart from their siblings.
10. Middles are ambitious.
Although ambition is a trait most associated with firstborns, middle-borns are often extremely driven, motivated by principals and willing to break new ground.
11. Middles are seekers of justice
Perhaps because they are often unnoticed or overshadowed by their siblings, they relate to marginalized people. As a result the middle child personality evolves to make them passionate crusaders for justice as adults.
12. Middles are better in bed
There is nothing better in bed than open-mindedness and a sense of adventure. Willingness to try new things and listen to their partner’s suggestions are also great qualities in the sack. And mom can be proud because middle-borns are also less likely to cheat.