You may not have noticed, but there’s a disappearing act going on within American families—middle children are becoming an endangered species.
Back in the 1970s, 40% of women had four or more kids and 25% had three kids. That meant there were plenty of so-called middleborn children to go around and comfort each other about their lot in life.
American families are getting smaller, though, and one side effect of that is a severe lack of middle children. If you only have one or two children, as nearly two-thirds of women do, there is no middle child in the family. As Adam Sternbergh at The Cut reports, “middle children, the most populous birth-order demographic throughout most of human history, will soon be the tiniest.”
While the loss of middle children may not seem like a particularly dire situation, keep in mind that some psychologists believe that “middle children are actually more likely to successfully effect change in the world than any other birth order.” That’s according to psychologist Catherine Salmon, a leading expert on middle children, who spoke with The Cut. This despite the fact that, according to some studies, middle children traditionally receive less financial and emotional support from their parents. They learn how to make do on their own, and that is undoubtedly a good skillset when it comes to effecting change.
As a middle child, I find this trend alarming. Who will older brothers blame for broken lamps? Who will younger sisters blame for stealing the last hushpuppy? Who will parents benignly ignore while lionizing the achievements of their first born and coddling their babies? What can I say, middle child syndrome—the notion that us middleborns feel excluded and neglected compared to older and younger siblings—is real.
Before middle children disappear from American families, though, make them feel appreciated (for once in their lives). National Middle Child Day is August 12 and it should be celebrated across the South. We recommend serving sandwiches, Oreo cookies, and anything else stuck between two things