‘Malcolm in the Middle’ is a popular television series that follows the life of a middle child. The middle child is often considered to be neglected for not being the eldest or the youngest in the family, hence the phrase “middle child syndrome.” National Middle Child Day is on Wednesday, Aug. 12. It was created by Elizabeth Walker in the 1980s to honor kids "born in the middle of families."
The firstborn child tends to hold a considerable amount of power, due to being larger physically and given more authority by parents. The last-born has the ability to whine or become upset when things do not go his or her way. The middle child does not have these advantages.
Catherine Salmon, the co-author of The Secret Power of Middle Children says that this perceived disadvantage, allows for the middle child to attain other skills.
“They often get very good at negotiating, figuring out what the other person wants and needs, and then managing to get them what they want and what the middle child themselves want at the same time,” said Salmon in an interview with NPR. “And, of course, one of the things that middle children often want is peace and calm and quiet and for everybody to get along.”
Studies suggest that middle children are more independent and are more unlikely to conform. They are also prone to be more empathetic. Katrin Schumann, Salmon’s co-author wrote that middle children can reap the benefits of being neglected.
“If middles are so resentful and bitter, why are they more cooperative and trusting in their friendships? And why are they such successful leaders?” wrote Schumann in an article for Psychology Today. “Fifty-two percent of our Presidents have been middles. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Madonna—all are visionary middles with strong leadership qualities.”