The Case for Middle Child Reparations

This piece was rejected by the Danforth Dispatch. So much for supporting freedom of tho(ugh)t.

In a society dominated by extremes, the plight of middle children is something that’s been consistently ignored. Constantly overlooked and undervalued, middle children are the backbone of society. And we demand reparations for the pain we’ve felt for years.

Some of you with many siblings may be reading this saying “Yes! Finally someone realizes my struggle!” To that I say, maybe. That depends on whether or not you fit my specific definition of middle child. Simply being somewhere in between the first and last born children doesn’t cut it for me; you have to consider the intersectionality of sibling privilege. There are levels to this shit.

If you’re the second oldest in a family of five kids? You’re not a middle child. You reap many of the benefits from being an older child and only suffer limited childhood trauma from not actually being the oldest or youngest. That’s not to say you don’t suffer other trauma (re: notable second oldests Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy’s head trauma), but this is not about you. And if you’re one of two middle children? You can just fight to assert who the true middle child is; it’ll be a good tactic to get attention from your parents who probably wish they would’ve just used protection in the first place. Up to you.

There are certainly middle children whose unfortunate birth positionality hasn’t stifled their success. But think about all who’ve suffered. Look no further than the Manning brothers. Maybe Peyton would still have a hairline if it weren’t for the stress and emotional suffering he endured trying to get attention as a middle child. (See below. Cooper Manning wasn’t included because he’s generally irrelevant, but he does have a hairline. Don’t trust me? Google is free.)

So where does that leave us? Who will finance our reparations fund that we undoubtedly deserve? I’m looking at you, Daddy Bezos. As an eldest child you’ve had everything given to you shiny and new, so I’m counting on you to invest some of your billions and billions of extra dollars into a middle child reparations fund. Additionally, there is a long list of others who benefit from birth order privilege who can help. (Looking at you, only children. You may be socially awkward but at least you never had hand-me-downs.)  Regardless of who contributes, I hope you all finally acknowledge the suffering of middle children in our aggressively hierarchical western culture. It’s what we deserve.