middleHow Do YOU Define ‘Middle?’

In a family with four kids, I consider the second and third children to be ‘middle’ children. I don’t know if birth-order gurus would agree or not, but in my mind, how else could it work?

So that makes me a middle child. It also makes me super-competitive. The problem with the super-competitive-middle-child syndrome is that as I grew older it turned into the super-comparative syndrome.

The act of comparison always leaves someone feeling little or less-than—just like a middle child. When I let my mind wander down the comparison path, I feel discouraged because I don’t have what Soandso has. To compensate, my mind quickly points out an area where I excel more than Whatshisname.

The cycle can get out of control when I start analyzing my performance in comparison with everyone else’s and realize that I don’t measure up—again. And so I do what all middle children do—I whine to my friends and family.

Of course, I try to make it sound like a compliment (no one likes hanging out with whiners). “You’re so good at quilting, I’ll never be able to quilt like you.”

I didn’t realize how deeply I had fallen into the trap until a friend gently pointed out to me that a compliment with a comparison is no compliment at all.

A compliment with a comparison is no compliment at all. #fmfparty #BGBG2 Click To Tweet

Hunger for Less Comparison

This year, I want to make a habit of hungering for God. I want to replace my wanting and whining with wanting and praying. Life is more of a messy middle than anything else—so I want to make the most of my middle times.

When I feel a compliment/comparison coming on, I’ll make a habit of praising God for what I do have. I’ll thank God for the changes he has made in me. And I’ll try to let my compliments stand alone without a slimy side of self-pity. I think my friends will appreciate it.

I want to let my compliments stand alone without a slimy side of self-pity. #BGBG2 Click To Tweet

I will rejoice with those who rejoice; and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15)

After all, we are all unfinished projects, and God hasn’t perfected us yet.Learn how to compliment without a slimy side of self-pity. http://wp.me/p7W1vk-8Z

Q4U: What do you struggle with?


  1. I am also a middle child but lack some of your competitiveness because I am surrounded by two older and two younger brothers. Being the only girl helped me to stand out already even though there were times that beating my brothers in sports became important.

    I love your perspective. Compliments should stand alone and be recognized just for what they are. Good to be here tonight for FMF.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Five Minute Friday ~ MiddleMy Profile

      1. Hi Mary, I’m in exactly the same position: 2 older bros & 2 younger, and no sisters. I agree 100%. Because my youngest brother was considerably younger, there were just 4 of us for a while and I had to join in on sports to make even teams (oldest & youngest against the two (then) middles). So I get it!!

  2. I am the oldest and in conversations with my sister (the middle), it seems we all bring our inner “hidden” thoughts out through our words. My sister would probably say that I tend to sound authoritative to her. I try to ask questions now instead of making a blanket statement about my opinion of her action. We don’t realize how much of our childhood dynamics affect our perceptions of who we are in this world. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
    Stephanie Thompson recently posted…What I Hear in the Middle of the NightMy Profile

  3. Beautifully done, Anita. I never really knew the issues that went along with being a middle child, and you opened my eyes.

    But for a minute I was wondering what it would be like to be called Soandso. Then the penny dropped.

    2 at FMF this week.

    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 258 – Why I Believe {FMF}My Profile

  4. #2 of 5 sisters here, but my mom always called me her “true middle child.” No, it wasn’t a compliment, but clearly, I know exactly what you mean! Only God has been able to deliver me from the trap of comparison, and to be honest, he has to do so daily. Thank you for your words!

  5. I’m a middle child too (2 older brothers and 2 younger brothers), so I can relate! I also thought your remark about accompanying compliments with comparisons was so insightful. It is incredibly freeing to give up the comparison game; it never yields anything good! Thanks for writing.
    Jeannie (#39 in FMF linkup)

  6. I’m also a middle child (2 older brothers, 2 younger), so I definitely relate here! I also thought your remark about accompanying compliments with comparisons was so insightful. Comparing ourselves with each other never leads to anything good. Thanks for writing!
    Jeannie (#39 in FMF linkup)
    Jeannie Prinsen recently posted…Five Minute Friday: MIDDLEMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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