Monday of this week, August 12th, was a holiday that I wasn’t aware even existed. It was Happy Middle Child Day. There is probably a certain irony that the holiday was largely overlooked since many middle kids say that no one pays any attention to them anyway.
My wife and my brother are both middle kids and for years have talked about the trials and tribulations of being the middle child, particularly in a set of three siblings. It is probably their closest bond and they read from the same page when it comes to describing why their life was different because of their birth order.
In investigating whether there really was anything to this middle child syndrome, I discovered that there is quite a bit of information out there about middle kids. In fact, they weren’t kidding; there actually is a real medical syndrome named for middle children.
There are over 70 million middle children all around the world. They have even formed a somewhat tongue-in-cheek group called The International Middle Child Union or the IMCU, which called for a strike Monday to bring awareness to the mistreatment of the middle child.
In a 2008 study by Brigham Young University, researchers determined that middle children receive 3,000 fewer hours of quality time with their parents than their older siblings did when they passed through the same age range.
Birth order does apparently influence certain aspects of your personality. Typical characteristics of the second child might include seeking to differ from the first child, becoming somewhat rebellious at times, and always competing with the older sibling.
The middle child of three might feel unloved and left out. They feel they don’t get their share of the attention and often seek the approval of others. Middle children often think of themselves as a “pleaser”.
When I decided to write this week about middle children, I expected the article to be funny with references to the many battles between my brother and me. Yes, I was the oldest but I blazed the trail for him while my parents experimented with me as all new parents do with their first born. My sister was the baby and the first girl in the family in a long time so she got everything she wanted. All of you have heard variations of these stories from your own families.
If you were an only child, the stereotype is that you were definitely spoiled and pampered, self-centered, and liked to do things your own way.
However, as I researched this middle child syndrome, I realized this is a real issue for many people. I literally read hundreds of stories from middle children, many supporting the fact that middle children receive less emotional support.
So, to my brother and wife and mother and all my friends that apparently have suffered as neglected middle children, I can only say Happy Middle Child Day.
By the way, August 12th was also World Elephant Day and Vinyl Record Day. Middle children even have to share their own holiday with others.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org