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Forgotten...again: Middle children are on the decline and, as usual, nobody’s noticed

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Fox Television Comedy "Malcolm in the Middle"

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Were you that kid who was somehow missing from all the family Christmas photos? Did you exact peacemaker moves on your older and younger siblings that would put a diplomat to shame? What about winning first place at a spelling bee none of your family attended?

If these situations feel familiar, you’re probably a middle child, and if that’s the case, you’ll most likely refuse to acknowledge that they are a big deal. Either way, it’s fair to say that middle children are a rare breed and, according to New York Magazine’s culture editor Adam Sternbergh, getting rarer.

Sternbergh’s piece outlines how nearly two-thirds of modern American women with children have either two or one, and compared to women in the 1970’s – when forty percent of mothers had four or more kids – that’s a huge decline in the middle child population.

Some might think “Who cares?” (a self-righteous thought most likely coming from an oldest child), but if birth order characteristics are truly a thing, it can be safely stated that the world is soon to be missing out on a lot of natural mediators.

How do you view this decline in middle children? If you are a middle child yourself, how did it shape who you are today? How did you navigate the different dynamics between your older and younger siblings? Call 866.893.5722.

With guest host Libby Denkmann.


Adam Sternbergh, New York Magazine’s culture editor who wrote a piece on middle children; he tweets @sternbergh

Catherine Salmon, professor of psychology at the University of Redlands whose primary research interests include birth order and the family