If you have siblings, you know the rivalry can get real. Middle children often get less attention from busy parents. But despite the commonly held belief that their insecurity and resentment carries on into adulthood, middle children actually develop some critical skills that help them become successful adults.
Whether or not “Middle Child Syndrome” is real, it’s true that middle children, particularly in large families, can get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Started in 1986 by Elizabeth Walker, National Middle Child Day celebrates our middle siblings and reminds us that each child is precious and important.
History of National Middle Child Day
Middle children have a reputation for being ignored by their family, consequently growing up resentful, withdrawn, and disaffected. Although research shows little correlation between birth order and personality, the stereotype has persisted in pop culture characters like Jan Brady, who epitomizes the embittered middle child.
In fact, middle children might have some distinct advantages in adult life. The skills they develop as the “forgotten” sibling often translate into important qualities like empathy, diplomacy, and flexibility. In fact, over half of U.S. presidents were middle children, along with many other successful leaders.
Resourceful and independent but also cooperative and patient, middle children often grow up to be good leaders and helpful teammates. They can negotiate a variety of personalities but also do well on their own, and are known as risk-takers and independent thinkers. Because they’re frequently left to their own devices, middle children develop a self-sufficiency less common in their older and younger siblings.
Until the 1970s, American families had an average of 2.5 children. Today, due to modernization and economic and environmental pressures, fewer and fewer families have middle children, with the average American family having just under two kids.
National Middle Child Day began in 1986 as a way to celebrate the siblings who feel left out or unseen and give them a special day of their own. Until now, it’s been celebrated on August 12.
Not everyone agrees on the holiday’s date: the International Middle Child’s Union, founded by Bruce Hopman, wants to change National Middle Child Day to July 2, which falls in the exact middle of the calendar year.
National Middle Child Day timeline
- March 19, 2000
The Simpsons Predicts Trump
In "Bart to the Future", during the 11th season of the beloved animated sitcom, Lisa Simpson, lovable kid genius and eternal middle child, becomes president – the episode also predicts the presidency of Donald Trump.
- January 9, 2000
Malcolm in the Middle First Airs
The hit sitcom first hits airwaves, launching a seven-season franchise about a dysfunctional family and the middle child who — sort of — holds it all together.
National Middle Child Day First Celebrated
Elizabeth Walker creates National Middle Child Day to give often-forgotten middle kids their own special celebration.
Middle Child Wins Peace Prize
Middle child Teddy Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Treaty of Portsmouth, exhibiting that famous middle-child diplomacy to end the Russo-Japanese War.
National Middle Child Day FAQs
Is there a national middle child day?
There is, indeed. National Middle Child Day is celebrated every year on August 12.
What personality does the middle child have?
Middle children tend to be the peace-keeper of the family and are often considered trustworthy and sociable.
Is “Middle Child Syndrome” real?
Much like other “syndromes,” the so-called Middle Child Syndrome asserts that middle children stay resentful and bitter long past childhood. Psychological studies have found no significant links between birth order and future happiness or well-being.
National Middle Child Day Activities
Send your middle child or sibling a gift
Let them know you’re thinking about them!
Watch some episodes of your favorite TV middle child
Grab some popcorn and spend some time with your own kids. Take a family poll to see who your favorite TV middle sibling is, and watch a few episodes of that show.
Get in touch with your siblings
Whether or not you have a middle child in your family, it’s never a bad time to reach out to your siblings and say hello.
5 Fascinating Facts About Middle Children
Abe Lincoln was a middle child
Over half of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, were middle children.
We see middle children as the peacemakers
In pop culture, middle children are often portrayed as the level-headed, responsible ones who quietly keep their siblings out of trouble. Think Malcolm Wilkerson, Michael Bluth, and Lisa Simpson.
When Full House’s middle daughter, Stephanie Tanner, feels self-conscious about wearing her new glasses, a guest star from another popular TGIF sitcom stops by to cheer her up and give her a lesson in self-confidence. That guest: Steve Urkel, the bespectacled neighbor from Family Matters.
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”
Jan and Marcia Brady's rivalry wasn't just good on-screen chemistry; the two actresses didn't have a good relationship during filming, and today they're still not on speaking terms.
Bill Gates started programming as a teen
Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist, and middle child Bill Gates wrote his first computer program as a teenager. It was a version of tic-tac-toe.
Why We Love National Middle Child Day
Middle children are going extinct
Today, most women with children have two children or less—making middle children a quickly disappearing breed. Appreciate the middle children in your life now!
Middle children make great diplomats
Because they have to navigate the social dynamics of large families growing up, middle children tend to develop strong negotiation skills.
It reminds us to call our relatives
In today’s busy world where people scatter far from their families, it’s sometimes hard to remember to check in with relatives. National Middle Child Day gives us an opportunity to reach out to our siblings, children, or grandchildren.
National Middle Child Day dates