The general belief is that Middle Child Syndrome occurs when the middle child of a family feels hard done by – they feel that they get the blame for everything, that what they do is never good enough and that life is, basically, unfair. They particularly feel that younger siblings ‘get off lightly’ and that older siblings are ‘the Chosen One’, as far as their parents are concerned.
As a middle child myself I can tell you that it is not a feeling, it is a FACT! Life is unfair! The middle child gets the blame for EVERYTHING! The older sibling is the ‘Chosen One’, he is perfection personified and you get sick of hearing ‘why can’t you be more like your brother?’ And don’t get me started on the younger sibling, they’re ‘too young to know better, so you should’; I learnt this the hard way – my baby sister (also called Jeff – yes all 3 of us were named Jeff, our parents thought it funny – and all of one year younger than me) threw a slipper at me for no reason, I dodged and a window took the blow meant for me. So what happened? I – yes me! – got into trouble for getting out of the way and ‘making’ the slipper break the window.
So when I look through history, I tend to look for the Middle Child syndrome sufferers and can spot them a mile off. George, Duke of Clarence is, of course an extreme example, but there are others….
Such as Richard I.
This poor chap got the blame for everything. In the eyes of history he could do nothing right.
Take the Crusades. Most kings are lauded for their crusading fervour and praised for their achievements in the Holy Land – King Louis IX of France was even made a saint because of it. But Richard? He gets accused of deserting England, despite the fact he left his mother – the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine – holding the fort with a hoard of skilful, experienced administrators to help. St Louis also left his mum in charge when he went on Crusade, but you don’t hear anyone moaning about him deserting France – he was, of course, the eldest child.
As if that isn’t enough, the blame goes on…
On his way home from the Holy Land, Richard – whilst still under the protection of the Church, as a Crusader – was kidnapped by Duke Leopold of Austria and subsequently imprisoned and held for ransom by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. And Richard got the blame! If anyone else had got kidnapped, there would have been outrage against the kidnappers, but no! All you hear is ‘how could Richard I allow himself to be kidnapped?’ Our poor Lionheart is accused of bankrupting the country to pay his ransom – like he could have had anything to do with that decision – the poor chap was in chains!
It gets better (or worse, especially if you’re a middle child)…..
Then there is baby brother John.
Whilst Richard was imprisoned, John rebelled and made a bid for his brother’s throne. Was this John’s fault? No, of course not. He was the baby. Richard should have known better than to go on Crusade – and get himself kidnapped – thus leaving temptation in John’s way and forcing him to rebel.
And don’t get me started on how selfish and inconsiderate he was for dying aged only 40, before he’d produced an heir…..
So what are the last words the history pundits say about Richard, the middle child? ‘If only his older brother, Henry, had survived I’m sure he would have made a better king.’
It says it all…..
Sauces: Thousand Island, BBQ, Tommy K, Sweet Chilli
Jeff R Sun, middle child.