I grew up oldest of two siblings and before my own children were born, my only knowledge of the middle child came from the TV series Malcolm in the Middle.
So I was quite surprised to hear that people view middle children as confused underachievers who are often overlooked by their parents (in the TV series, Malcolm was the genius of the siblings).
Thankfully, a new book by Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann set the record straight: there are actually a lot of benefits to being born in the middle. In this interview with NPR's Rebecca Robertsm, the authors explain:
Salmon: "If you grow up in a family and the firstborn tends to have a certain amount of authority that's given to them by the parents, and they're physically larger, they tend to get what they want or get their way through physical force or the authority parents have given them. While for the last-born, as anyone who's had to deal with a lot of last-borns often knows, they tend to whine to the parents or get very upset if they don't get their way. And so that's their particular strategy for working out what needs to be worked out.
"For the middle child, neither of those strategies are available. So 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. And, of course, one of the things that middle children often want is peace and calm and quiet and for everybody to get along. And so those traits then serve them well when they leave the family and go on to form their own families, and in the workplace."