Why Don’t You Be More Like

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.

3 thoughts on “Why Don’t You Be More Like

  1. Bro, you and I know that our nephew-in-law loves his son. I spoke with him and realize that he is confused because his son is interested in activities that he doesn't know about. It's as simple as him wanting his son to do things that he can help him with and do together.

    He's not the villain; he is confused. Linking him and his wife to professional counselors was a great move.

    I agree with you, we have to help them separate concerns about their son being gay with concerns about not being interested in typical activities like sports.

    I saw that happening between you and me when we were growing up — while you can relate to our Great Nephew, I can relate to his brothers and our nephew. Let's work on this together. We can demonstrate that we can not only turn out okay and lead happy and productive lives, but we can remain close as brothers always.

    Your loving twin,

    J

  2. J, I lean on you often, as your intelligence is only outshone by your tact and diplomacy. You make great sense. I think together we can make a difference and help — this is what families are for, and do for one another. I am so richly blessed to have you in MY life.

    Ore e sempre,

    Me.

  3. Thank the Lord your G-nephew has uncles like you guys.

    To nephew: I am like you in a lot of ways. I was always picked last on the team, taunted a lot, and hurt inside because I was not good at male things. I still harbor a deep bitterness about people today because of the hurt that I felt long ago.

    Now I am 40. I turned out OK. But it has been a long hard struggle to realize that it is OK to be a man and not be good at what the world thinks are manly things, and to be compared to others.

    Just BE YOURSELF! If you like drama, so be it. If you like to sing, do that. If you like to cook, and clean house, and garden, and … look, it is 2011, and not 1950. It is OK for guys to follow their dreams. And you will have male friends, but they may be not the typical ones. In my case, I joined a bagpipe band, and had some pretty rowdy times. No one messes with a guy in a kilt – we carry knives.

    And if someday you have sons of your own, and feel that you need to teach them how to do some things like throw a football, get another adult to help you. That's what I'm doing right now, because I don't know how to yet.

    And be thankful you have uncles like the ones you have.

    One final thought:

    The true joy of life is to NOT conform. Be who you are; do what you know is right.

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