15 Facts You Never Knew About Middle Children
Calling all middle children! After getting overshadowed throughout our entire childhoods, it's officially our time to shine.
MIDDLE CHILDREN HAVE THEIR OWN HOLIDAY.
It's on August 12 and you can celebrate by sharing your equally with your younger and older siblings — if anyone remembers to pay attention to you at all.
WE'RE GOING EXTINCT.
Back in the '70s, the most common family unit had four kids or more, according to New York Magazine. Today, nearly two-thirds of women with children only have one or two. As the median family size continues to decrease, middle children will increasingly become a rare breed.
MORE THAN HALF OF U.S. PRESIDENTS WERE MIDDLE CHILDREN.
You might have heard that the majority of presidents were firstborns, but that's actually not true. In fact, 52% of commanders-in-chief were middle children, a fact often overlooked as men were historically considered "firstborn" even if they had older sisters, according to Catherine Salmon, a psychologist who studies middle children. Some of the most famous middleborn presidents include Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and JFK.
OTHER FAMOUS MIDDLES INCLUDE J.LO AND ANNE HATHAWAY.
You can also cite Bill Gates, Madonna, Elena Kagan, Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, David Letterman, Charles Darwin, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Jordan, and Warren Buffett as successful middles. But we should appoint Jennifer Garner as our celeb spokeswoman: "I am the model middle child," she once told Parade. "I am patient, and I like to take care of everyone. Being called nice is a compliment. It’s not a boring way to describe me." We're with you, Jen.
THERE'S AN OFFICIAL MIDDLE CHILD WINE.
It's from a California winery called Middle Sister that produces bottles like Rebel Red, Wild One Malbec, and Goodie Two Shoes Pinot Noir. Consider it the perfect choice for toasting to the real star of the family – or softening the sting of feeling consistently overlooked and undervalued.
WE HAVE OUR OWN "SYNDROME."
You've probably heard of "middle child syndrome," a theory initially posited by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler in the early 2oth century. The gist is that middleborns feel left out and resentful as they don't receive the same privileges as the oldest or the pampering of the youngest. However, scientific research has yet to provide much evidence that this is true.
MIDDLES APPARENTLY DON'T ACT ANYTHING LIKE THE OLDEST.
Another philosophy as to why middles are the way that they are: "Once a role is filled by the firstborn, the secondborn will seek out a role that's completely the opposite," Kevin Leman, Ph.D., author of The Birth Order Book, told Parents. This helps account for why some middles act out while others love to please — or it could just be because we're our own people, you know?
SOME MIDDLES AREN'T REALLY "MIDDLES" PER SE.
Researchers who study birth order consider any sibling not the youngest or oldest a middle (even if you're, say, second out of five kids and not exactly in the middle). However, there's also something called a "functional firstborn." For example, if your parents had another child 10 years after you were born (like Britney Spears), you still spent most of your childhood as the "youngest" and may exhibit some of the traits most associated with the baby of the family.
OUR BIGGEST STRENGTH: WE'RE THE PEACEMAKERS.
It's not all bad when it comes to middle child stereotypes. Adler and other contemporary psychologists believe that our "middleness" actually helps us develop skills like diplomacy, resilience, and independence. Adler also thought that the lack of parental attention made middleborns more likely to fight injustice. Right on.
AND WE'RE UNDERESTIMATED, ACCORDING TO ONE EXPERT.
For all those reasons, some experts believe middles are uniquely equipped to take on big issues. "What few people realize is that middle children are actually more likely to successfully effect change in the world than any other birth order," Salmon told New York Magazine. "As is so often the case with middles, they’re perennially underestimated."
THERE'S AN INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD’S UNION?.
Founded by middle child Bruce Hopman, the IMCU is also leading the charge in switching Middle Child’s Day to July 2, which is (you guessed it) the middle of the calendar. You can sign the petition — it's not like anyone remembers to celebrate it in August anyway.
ALL THE BEST TV FAMILIES HAVE A KICKASS MIDDLE MEMBER.
They're a bit typecast, too. Think of smart alecky misfits like Lisa Simpson on The Simpsons; Jan Brady on The Brady Bunch; Alex Dunphy on Modern Family; Darlene Conner on Roseanne; Stephanie Tanner on Full House; Mallory Keaton on Family Ties; and of course our poster child, Malcolm Wilkerson on Malcolm in the Middle.
AND JUST IMAGINE THESE SIBLING BANDS WITHOUT THEIR MIDDLES.
Sibling acts like Haim, Hanson, The Band Perry, The Osmonds, The Beach Boys, and even the Jonas Brothers wouldn't be the same without the middle child. In fact, all three members of the Bee Gees — Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb — were the middle of five kids. And they're one of the best-selling musical groups of all time.
LET'S NOT FORGET THE MIDDLES FAMOUS FOR BEING MIDDLES.
BUT THAT BIRTH ORDER STUFF COULD BE OVERBLOWN.
Even if we want to claim middle-child kinship, there's still a lot of controversy over how much birth order affects personality, if at all. The traits attributed to each family member can seem so "spot-on" because of something called the Barnum Effect: a psychological phenomenon where seemingly specific personality descriptions are actually vague enough to apply to a lot of people. The same concept is what makes horoscopes and fortune telling seem "accurate."
WATCH: YOU WILL ONLY UNDERSTAND THIS IF YOU HAVE SIBLINGS
Middle, youngest, or oldest, everyone can appreciate these realities of growing up with brothers and sisters.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.