If you recognize these 7 signs, you were the forgotten child in your family

by Isabel Cabrera | December 29, 2023, 11:27 pm

Have you ever felt like your achievements were overlooked, or that your voice was somehow less important at family gatherings?

Or perhaps, you’ve found yourself constantly struggling for attention, while your siblings seemed to effortlessly bask in the spotlight.

I know what that’s like. I was that forgotten child in my family.

Is it possible you were as well?

Let’s delve into this…

Here are 7 signs that might suggest you were the overlooked child in your family.

1) You often feel invisible

One of the most disheartening signs of being the forgotten child is often feeling invisible, especially within your own family.

This can make you feel like your achievements go unnoticed, or that your opinions and feelings are systematically overlooked.

And unfortunately, this feeling of invisibility can be a slippery slope.

It may lead to a constant need for validation from others or a deeply ingrained belief that you’re not worthy of attention.

Even worse, in trying to become visible, we may end up fading into the background even more – perpetuating the cycle of feeling ignored.

Breaking free from this pattern involves acknowledging our worth and understanding that we don’t need others’ validation to feel seen and valued.

Easier said than done, I know. But it’s definitely worth working on, for your own sake. 

2) You’re often the peacekeeper

An overlooked sign of being the forgotten child is frequently finding yourself in the role of peacekeeper within your family.

This usually means you’re the one who steps in to mediate disputes or soothe tensions to maintain harmony.

But here’s the thing, this peacekeeping role often comes with its own set of challenges.

You may feel compelled to suppress your own feelings and opinions to avoid generating conflict, which can lead to feelings of resentment and invisibility.

But in doing this, you may find you end up neglecting your own emotions. 

Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance. Being able to speak up and have your needs heard, and not always feeling like you’ve got to mediate or keep the peace in the family. 

3) You’re always the responsible one

Another sign of being the overlooked child might be that you’ve always found yourself as the responsible one in your family.

This role often falls onto the forgotten child, as they strive to be seen or recognized for their efforts.

I remember my own experiences with this all too well.

As the middle child sandwiched between an older, rebellious brother and a younger, pampered sister, I was often left picking up the slack.

I’d find myself doing chores that weren’t mine, finishing up projects my siblings had abandoned, and even smoothing over their mistakes to keep the peace.

The problem with always being the responsible one is that it can lead to a lifetime of self-neglect.

In my case, I ended up prioritizing everyone else’s needs over my own, which took a toll on my mental health.

Breaking away from this pattern involves learning to set boundaries and saying ‘no’ when needed.

It’s about understanding that being responsible doesn’t mean sacrificing our own well-being.

Because, at the end of the day, we deserve to take care of ourselves just as much as we take care of others.

4) You struggle with self-esteem

Another sign that you might have been the forgotten child is a persistent struggle with self-esteem.

Often, being overlooked can lead to feelings of inadequacy or a belief that you’re less deserving than others.

This struggle with self-esteem can manifest in many ways – from doubting your capabilities to constantly comparing yourself to your siblings or peers.

It can also lead to self-deprecation or an inability to accept compliments graciously.

So, how to change this around?

Well, start by acknowledging your worth and challenging the negative beliefs you hold about yourself.

Before the rest of the world can truly see you, you need to see yourself. 

5) You’re excellent at reading others

If you’ve found yourself frequently picking up on subtle cues about how people around you are feeling, that might be another sign that you were the overlooked child.

You may have developed a sensitivity toward other people’s moods and energy.

This sensitivity can make you excellent at reading others and anticipating their needs – skills that might have emerged as coping mechanisms in an environment where your own needs were often sidelined.

And while it’s a good thing, it’s important to not feel like you have a responsibility over how others feel.

This is something I’ve had to work on a lot. 

In my relationships as an adult, I’d often pick up on energy or feelings and feel like it was my job to help if a partner was stressed or down.

It’s a nice theory, but in reality, I overburdened myself.

It took a long time to realize that you can’t fix everything, sometimes you just have to be there for people while protecting your own emotions and energy. 

6) You crave validation

Another common trait among those who were the forgotten child is a deep-seated craving for validation.

We touched on this in the first point, and it’s something I can very much relate to. 

For years, I would go above and beyond in every task, always hoping for that pat on the back, that word of appreciation.

I yearned for external validation as a way to fill the void left by the lack of attention I felt as a child.

The problem with seeking external validation is that it can lead to a dependency on others for self-worth. It’s an elusive chase because no amount of praise from others can truly satiate the need for self-acceptance.

The only way to break free from this is to start seeing your own worth and not depend on anyone else for it.

It took me a long time to realize this, but once I did, it was a game-changer.

7) You constantly feel the need to prove yourself

The last, and perhaps most telling sign of being the forgotten child, is a relentless drive to prove your worth.

This often stems from feelings of invisibility or inadequacy that you might have developed growing up overlooked in your family.

On a positive note, this need to prove yourself can push you to excel in many areas of your life. But it can also lead to burnout, as you constantly strive for perfection and fear failure.

The crucial thing to remember here is that you don’t need to prove your worth to anyone. Your worth is inherent, and it’s not determined by your achievements, your productivity, or others’ perceptions of you.

Embrace who you are, and know that you are enough just as you are.

In summary:

If you see yourself in these signs, it’s quite possible that you were the overlooked child in your family.

However, it’s essential to remember – this doesn’t need to define who you are today.

With self-awareness and active effort, these experiences can be utilized as stepping stones toward growth and self-discovery.

The key lies in acceptance and self-compassion. Understanding your past is important, but not at the cost of your present happiness or self-worth.

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