Like a lot of Middle Children, I suffer from Middle Child Syndrome. MCS is a condition so powerful, it can cause damage that lasts a lifetime. Yet even though it affects millions of people, it has been virtually ignored by research. There are no fancy telethons for MCS. And the worst part is, there is no cure. No one knows exactly who “discovered” MCS, but one thing’s for sure. Of all the injustices suffered by Middle Children, it has done the most damage. Here’s why…
MCS is often defined as: “When a Middle Child, typically in a family of three kids who are close in age, feels left out or neglected.” Of course there’s no denying that many Middle Children share a common set of characteristics. But so do first and last-borns. How come theirs didn’t get an umbrella name? Not only did our behaviors get a name, they made it sound like a disease! You know what the definition of syndrome is? "A group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality! MCS = something is wrong with you.
cal Middle Child feeling singled out. A perfect example of MCS in action. But is it? Turns out these “feelings” we have may be totally justified. Not just something in our heads, but something very real.
A 2009 poll of 1,000 parents and 1,000 Middle Children conducted by OnePoll for TheBabyWebsite.com found that 34% of parents claim their Middle Child had it easier due to a lack of attention -- like they were doing us some kind of favor by ignoring us. 38% also believe we were the worst behaved. Gee, maybe if they gave us a little more attention? And 40% found it so difficult trying to treat three children equally, they would recommend that other parents only have two. I’m pretty sure most Middle Children know which two our parents would’ve preferred. A 2008 Brigham Young University study backs this all up. It showed that between the formative ages of 3 and 14, Middle Children received 3,000 fewer hours of quality time with parents than their older siblings did when they passed through the same age range. Lucky us!
Our older and younger siblings love to use MCS as a way to protect their sacred positions in the family and further marginalize us. When we try to expose what it’s really like being a Middle Child, when we call them out on the way we’re really treated, they pull out their secret weapon. “Oh, don’t pay any attention to him. He’s got Middle Child Syndrome,” they say. Excuse me, but not paying any attention to us is what created this whole problem in the first place! It’s a vicious cycle. But the ultimate disrespect is when someone who isn’t even a Middle Child is told they are acting like they have MCS. Does that seem fair? I mean, if they’re going to give us a syndrome, do we really have to share it with everyone else?