As an almost-middle child myself, I’m familiar with the popular sentiment that middle children are often ignored and tend to dislike their position in the family. That isn’t the case for Timilehin (26).

He talks about how being a middle child has made his life easier and contributed to his being a well-adjusted adult.

As told to Boluwatife

Image designed by Freepik

The first time I realised people were supposed to have issues being middle children was at university.

I was in a talking stage with this babe, and when the conversation moved to families and siblings, she began feeling sorry for me after I said I was the middle child. It was like, “Oh no. I can’t imagine how lonely that must’ve felt”. I didn’t want to piss her off or make the conversation awkward, so I just said “Yeah” and moved on. But I was confused as hell. What do being a middle child and loneliness have in common?

I didn’t think about it again until a few months later. I was talking with a couple of my friends in the hostel about how much Nigerian parents can stress your life, and the conversation shifted to siblings. It turned out that some of my friends were also middle children and associated it with being a difficult experience. 

I was more than a little surprised. I mean, we all agree that being the first or last born comes with challenges. As the first, you automatically become the third parent. And as the last, you sometimes turn to the chief errand goer. 

But I didn’t know that middle children also battled loneliness because they didn’t get as much attention as the other kids and were often left alone to do their own things. I didn’t have that experience. In fact, I had an amazing life growing up. I still do.

I grew up with four other siblings. As the third of five children, that effectively made me the middle child. You know how you have vivid memories as a child of rushing to bring out the soup from the freezer just before your parents came back because you forgot to do that earlier? That was never my problem. That responsibility typically fell to one of my two older siblings. Sure, I had chores and all. But my parents never really put me in “charge” of something. 

I also never really felt lonely. I’m just two years older than my immediate younger sibling, and our closeness in age meant we automatically became best friends. My brother was—and still is—my partner in crime. My older siblings could do whatever they wanted. I had my brother, and that was fine by me. If I wasn’t hanging out with him, I was perfectly content to sit in silence or fight imaginary enemies with sticks.

As an adult, I’m grateful I’m not in a position where my family expect so much from me. I’m 26, and our last born is 22. We’re technically in the same age range, so he’s more likely to call our older siblings for money before he even remembers me. 

There’s also no black tax from my family because, again, my siblings are there. No one will disturb me to get married for at least seven years or until my siblings get married. Chores? Nope. I don’t live with my parents; only the lastborn does. I’m older than him, so I still get to send him on errands whenever I’m home.

Another thing I absolutely love about being the middle child is the absence of pressure. My oldest sibling just switched to tech after spending several years studying medicine simply because my parents decided they wanted to be called “daddy doctor” and “mummy doctor”. 

My second older sibling had to study law. She’s practising now, but I don’t think she ever really decided it was what she wanted. No one batted an eyelid when I chose human resources. However, that could be because they were relieved I finally got uni admission after waiting for two years. 

That’s another thing — my parents didn’t stress that I failed JAMB twice. My big sister still says she can’t believe they didn’t fuss too much after I failed. Maybe they just didn’t care, or they’d grown enough to realise that flogging children into submission didn’t do much. Whichever way, I’m just glad I had space to figure out what I wanted to do.

I think space and pressure from home are two factors that can determine just how difficult navigating adulting can be. I have friends who hate their jobs but can’t leave because they have responsibilities at home and need to earn money. I quit two toxic jobs without backup plans just because I could. I know I don’t have to impress anybody, I have space to try things, and there’s no pressure to figure things out immediately. If bad turns to worse, I can always run back to my siblings or parents. My life is the definition of a “well-adjusted adult”. 

I won’t lie; it’s a stress-free way to live. I love my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

ALSO READ: It Took Me 30 Years, but I Now Understand My Mother



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