Do you suffer from “middle child syndrome”? Originally proposed by Austrian Psychologist Alfred Adler in the early 20th century, this theory posits that the middle child often feels excluded, while the oldest child is given a majority of the responsibilities and is afforded certain privileges and the “baby of the family”, the youngest child, is spoiled and indulged and always gets her way. There has been a fair amount of research on the topic, with little evidence confirming that the theory actually holds up.
That doesn’t many that some middle children don’t feel ignored or overlooked sometimes, though. Jan from The Brady Bunch reminds us as much (though she is, of course, a fictional character). But if you’re a middle child who just wants a little recognition, you’re in luck: there’s a day dedicated solely to celebrating and honoring middle children — appropriately called Middle Child Day.
Originally observed on the second Saturday in August, Middle Child Day is now typically celebrated on August 12th each year. This year, it falls on a Monday, and it will occur on the following days of the week for the next seven years:
In the 1980s, Litton Walker III wrote an article in a newspaper stating that his grandmother, Elizabeth Walker, wanted to establish a national holiday honoring children “born in the middle of families,” because, in her opinion, they were frequently overlooked by their families and felt “left out.” The day was initially established as National Middle Children’s Day and was later renamed National Middle Child Day. It continues to honor and acknowledge these frequently “left out” middle children. There is no set or established way to celebrate the day.
Aside from birth order, what makes a middle child truly middle? Here are some interesting facts about middles.
A 1971 Gallup poll revealed a shift in preferences about family size, from four children to two children. In 2015, Pew Research Center found that 48 percent of Americans said they would prefer to have two children.
With family size declining, so is the frequency of middle children — at least compared with their frequency in the early- and mid-twentieth century. Are they at risk of becoming extinct?
In a study entitled “Birth Order Effects in the Formation of Long-Term Relationships” published in the Journal of Individual Psychology, researchers found that middle children have the tendency to have romantic relationships with other middle children. Moreover, they concluded that middle children tend to be happier in relationships and more faithful to romantic partners and platonic friends than oldest and youngest children.
In The Secret Power of Middle Children, Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann, who conducted extensive research on the topic, argue that middle children are often strong negotiators and are perceptive about understanding and meeting the other person’s desires.
These presidents include:
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
William Howard Taft
John F. Kennedy
George H.W. Bush
A 2013 study entitled “Sibship size, birth order, family structure and childhood mental disorders” conducted by researchers at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid found that middle children who were living with both biological parents were less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or have emotional disorders than their older or younger siblings.
The study “Sibling Association, Family Size, and Cognitive Abilities” published in The Journal of Genetic Psychology in 1966 reveals that middle children may fare better in group situations as opposed to solitary ones. Hello, teamwork!
If you’re a middle child, celebrate Middle Child Day by taking some time for yourself. Do some self-care activities such as practicing yoga or mindfulness. Take yourself out for a drink. Go to the spa or get a pedicure. Have a nice, long walk by yourself. Enjoy a bubble bath. Give yourself the gift of “you” time.
If you’re the parent or loved one of a middle child, make the day about her. Take her out to dinner. Bake her a cake. Go to a movie. Do an activity with her that she really loves. Mainly, just show her that you appreciate her — not just because of her “middleness”!