Definition of “little brother”/”little sister” – Any person that is younger than you and witnesses the things that you do, the things that you say you do, and the things that they think you do.
I have a sister who is seven years younger than me. Because of this, I’ve witnessed an interesting pattern in the younger generation. Technically my little sister is still a part of my generation, but realistically she is living an entirely different life than me.
When I was in grade school I struggled with the typical pressures of my peer group. I wanted to be popular and wasn’t. I wanted fashionable clothes but didn’t know what that meant. (I learned quickly that parachute fabric pants were not acceptable, especially when they were purple, green, and pink.) I wanted recognition so I worked hard on my grades and music. This didn’t earn me popularity, but I am glad to say that it did earn me the respect of my peers.
There were also pressures unique to my group. In elementary school, I faced the Furby craze and, of course, the pressure to date. I was “asked out” for the first time in the 3rd grade and kindly explained that I couldn’t date until I was sixteen. I repeated this explanation throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school. It changed as the years progressed though. In elementary school, it was “I can’t go out with you because…”. In middle school, it was “I can’t make-out with you because…”. And, in high school, it was “I can’t have sex with you because…”. Even after I turned sixteen and was allowed to date, I didn’t date much because I had to be exclusive and exclusivity meant giving more than I was willing.
Now, the reason I bring this up is because I want to compare it to what my little sister is going through. She deals with the same childish pressures as I did: the need to be popular and fashionable, the need to stand out, the necessity of being set apart, etc… However, she deals with the whole “going out” fiasco at a very different level than I did. What I dealt with in high school–the fad of having sex as recognition of “adulthood”–she deals with now in middle school. How in the world did having sex become popular in middle school! She has even told me that some of her friends are recovering from drug abuse and prostitution. These kids are thirteen and fourteen years old. WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED?!
When my older sister, who is only two years old than me, started wearing makeup I wanted to wear makeup, too. When she started choir I wanted to start choir, too. When she went to dances I wanted to go, too. And when she started going to parties (clean parties) I wanted to go, too. I looked up to my older sister. She was always the epitome of maturity to me (and she still is). If I wanted to act mature, I acted like she did. Maybe you recognize that you did the same thing when you were younger?
We saw our siblings and our siblings friends and peers and they became our idols. They became what we wanted to be–what we felt we needed to be to fit in and be “cool.” If we acted older than everyone else, then we had authority over everyone else–we were at a different level. None of our peers could act like they were better because we were more “mature,” more “experienced” than them.
And, guess what… For better or worse, we became like the people we looked up to.
Do we even understand the whirlpool that this mentality creates? It sucks our little brothers and sisters down and drowns them! It drowns them in the problems that we wished we had never thrown ourselves into. It drowns them in teen pregnancy, in drug addiction, in prostitution, in sex addiction, in low self-esteem, in crappy relationships, in depression, in distrust, in anger… Because of our actions as their older siblings, their examples and idols, they are being held under the current that we can barely hold our heads above. Our failures are like hands on their shoulders pushing them under the surface.
We must be careful with what we do and say. We must be careful about what our siblings learn about our habits–even if it is hearsay. We have no choice in this because we will not be able to convince them otherwise. So, if you want to take responsibility for the fact that your little sister is considered a whore at school because she thinks she needs to have sex with every boy she “dates” because you have sex with every boy you date, then be reckless. If you want your little brother to be an addict by the time he is thirteen, then keep going to your raves and smoking with your buddies.
Go ahead, drown the little boy next door; drown your little sister; drown your little brother’s best friend. Hold them under until they are so far down they have nothing to grasp, nothing to hold on to, and nothing can reach them.
We cannot and must not ignore or deny the responsibility we have to younger generations.