The Equality Assumption

Real Life Aug 05, 2009

Let me make on observation about conservative, home school families. This is not applicable to the rest of the world, but it is applicable to our world.

There’s an inter-family phenomena that happens in every family of any size (say three or more). I haven’t named it yet, but for now, we’ll call it the Equality Assumption. The Equality Assumption is when a younger sibling assumes that they ought to have every opportunity and liberty of their older siblings.

This is patently false.

There is no way for a 14 year old to understand the maturation that happens between 15 and 25. Everyone who has walked the trail of adulthood and gone from being a tween or early teen to a full blown twenty-something will testify to how their own personhood “grew up” during those spiritually, emotionally, socially, and relationally formative years. These are the years that God gave us to grow up. Some of us have. Others need to catch up.

In the mean time, those still facing the dawn of these years will look ahead and see their siblings riding into the sunset and demand that they be allowed to jump ahead. The justification for this demand is mythical sense of “fairness” that, to this day, has never been defined.

Let me put that into common English: Saying, “That’s not fair” is not a reasonable argument.

Therefore, the older sibling has every reason to pursue adulthood under the wise counsel of his or her parents and the younger sibling has no reason at all to lay claim to the same permissions.

Sadly, a lot parents aren’t aware of this phenomena, and most young adults spend their late-teen and early-twenty years hiding stuff from their younger siblings just to avoid the conflict. But the fact of the matter is that, given the obvious maturity difference between siblings, liberty should not be extended to the younger sibling and the young adult should be freed to be a responsible, young adult.

But that’s not usually what happens. What usually happens is that younger siblings, trying (naturally) to be like their older siblings, begins to imitate the behavior of their older siblings. The parents correct the younger sibling and the younger sibling complains, “But _______ is allowed to ________!” Then the parents look to the older sibling like it’s his or her fault and that young adult is forced into hiding. In the mean time, that same young adult is treated to hyper-conservative standards that are more fitting for an immature, early teen. Or worse, the parents acquiesce to the demands of the younger sibling and her or she is given freedoms they in no-way earned. The younger sibling effectively (and we might add ungratefully)inherited his or her freedom and then my peers sit around and complain, “We never would have been allowed to do that at their age.” –which is true.

Look at your household and the households around you see it for yourself: An entire family will grow up as fast as the oldest member living in the house. Why? Because of a lack of age-appropriate liberties.

Two Observations before we leave this topic:

1. As young adults, we need to be careful and generous.

Let’s get a few things straight. We don’t have to live at home. So, if we are living at home, we should live by the at-home rules. Otherwise, we should move out. We are an influence in our homes. Our music, our movies, our clothes, our room decor, our standards, and our spiritual walk have more power and influence on our siblings than than anyone else has (including our parents).

If our parents are kind enough to let that kind of power in their house, don’t abuse it. Work out the standards with your parents. There’s no problem with having special, adult privileges if it doesn’t form a stumbling block for our younger siblings. If we expect our parents to grant us adult liberties, we can’t flaunt them.

Also, if we want space from your younger siblings, you need to invest in them. I’m particularly bad at this, but the truth is, any relationship is a balance between together-time and separate-time. We need to become experts at maintaining that balance. It will be a huge asset in the long-run, and we have to learn it anyways, so we might as well start right now. Once you have a relationships with your siblings, you can make requests like, “I need some alone time.” They’ll respect that if there’s a strong enough relationship to carry the message.

2. As younger siblings, you all need to be supportive and patient.

See if you can wrap your head around this: whatever liberties your older siblings are pursing will be available to you in the future and then some. You’re freedom is right around the corner. It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s there. That means, when you support your older sibling’s freedom, you are investing in your own. This doesn’t mean you help your siblings hide stuff from your parents it means when your siblings are doing something and you’ve been told no, put a lid on it. Your turn is coming.

I know that’s a a lot easier said than done. Believe me I know that. But anytime you get on your siblings case, and every time you push your parents to make a decision for both of you, you are creating a problem for your sibling and your parents that wouldn’t be there if you weren’t being selfish. And it’s a sure sign to me that you don’t deserve the freedom at all.

If you can’t be told “no” without you throwing a fit, then you definitely shouldn’t be told yes.

Be patient, my friends. Your time is coming. Look towards your parents and your own future. Enjoy the fact that you are a different person from your older sibling(s). That’s a good thing. It’s a God-given gift. The more you embrace your own individual place, the more your find contentment and happiness.

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