It is every child’s fear to be compared with an older sibling… or at least I felt that way. With 13 older brothers and sisters, it would have been easy for my parents to suggest that I behave in ways that other siblings were behaving, or be athletic like some of them, or studious like some others, or enjoy dancing like some others, etc.
I realize now, in my older age, just how very fortunate I was not to have that happen as I was growing up. My parents treated all of us as individuals, with separate skills, interests, preferences, likes, and dislikes. While I have a twin brother, even the two of us were not compared with one another by our parents. Same was true for the other multiples (twins and triplets) in my family.
I think, though, that comparisons are happening with my Great Nephew, about whom I blogged yesterday. He has two older brothers who are graceful, skilled, and athletic. One of his brothers helped his school win a championship in football, while another did exceptionally well in a community baseball league.
I had another long conversation with my Great Nephew last night, and he told me that it was okay to say this: he hates being compared with his older brothers. He tried out for the community baseball league, and couldn’t make the team. He had not practiced or played very much, and had not developed adequate skills. Further, his heart wasn’t in it. He just didn’t like baseball, or sports in general.
I could relate to that. We both are not interested in sports. We both feel as if we are not athletically inclined. And we both resent being compared with others who are better skilled in certain activities that parents favor. His Dad didn’t favor his son taking an interest in musical performance.
Even these days, where supposedly Dads are “enlightened,” I could sense that it was not the case. Dad would have preferred that his youngest son “follow the footsteps” of his older, athletic, brothers. There’s a reason for that… Dad grew up in a certain area of the country whose residents are very outspoken about males taking on stereotypical male roles, and should a male take on a role like singing a lead in a musical, then they say stupid things to belittle the behavior, and apply labels related to homosexuality. So sad….
My Great Nephew could be gay — or not — and using indicators from things he likes to do (or not do) should not be aligned with sexual orientation. Just because he can sing and play various instruments doesn’t mean that he is gay; just because he is not athletically talented and doesn’t like to play ball doesn’t mean he’s gay, either. But so what? If he is gay, he will need all the support he can get from the two people who mean the most to him in his life: his parents.
I put his parents in touch with some professionals who know how to explain all these differences and help the parents understand how to nurture and appreciate differences in their children and bring out in them what they can do best, each as individuals, with talents, skills, and abilities that are not all the same.
Life is short: show those you love that you love them.