RIP, Middle Child: Where Have All the Middle Children Gone?
Look around and chances are most of the moms at the playground aren't planning on having any more than two children. This is a fairly drastic change from the 1970s when 60% of families had three or more children – and, therefore, had at least one middle child. In those days, the kid sitting next to you at school was just as likely to be the one in the middle as they were to be the oldest or youngest.
Times have changed. Statistics have flipped and in 2018, 60% of families have only one or two children. That means that the once ubiquitous middle child is now on the endangered species list.
Adam Sternbergh, contributing editor of New York Magazine, and the author of “The Extinction of the Middle Child” discussed why he thought this was the case with National Public Radio. According to Sternbergh, several factors are contributing to the demise of the middle child. Among them are that women are waiting longer to have children and that there has been a societal shift in what the ideal family looks like. When once an ideal family included a herd of children, most parents today consider two to be the ideal number of children.
With the loss of the middle child, we are losing the peace-makers, those more willing to take risks, and those who have been shown to effect change in the world.
As the mother of not just one but two middle children out of my brood of four, I have come to love and appreciate the middle child.
Are you planning on having any middle children? Or are you one (or two) and done?