Younger Siblings Face Expectations


Story by Lexie Salamone

Being the youngest child can come with a heavy burden and a great deal of pressure to do as well as one’s older siblings or even be superior to them.

Senior Frank Brefo said he is often compared to his older sister, Mavis Brefo. Mavis is currently working at Asentra as a business consultant in Los Angeles and will begin grad school in the near future.

“I am usually compared to her academically in regards to how we both signed up for the IB Diploma, and how she and I balanced other extracurricular activities with that,” said Brefo.

Because he’s no stranger to comparison, Brefo wants people to realize that he and his sister have different interests and excel in different areas.

“If I strive to do exactly what my sister does all the time, I won’t be living my own life. I have my own goals and aspirations that I want to achieve that differ from my sister’s,” Brefo said.

Like Brefo, Junior Tyler Boehm has followed a similar path to his older sibling, but in his case it is the path of athletics. Boehm, however, does not consider himself to be “living in the shadow” of his older brother, Evan Boehm. Evan played in the 2012 All-American Under Armour game while he as a senior at West; he now plays as a junior offensive lineman at the University of Missouri.

“We are two different people. Different body structures. And do different sports,” said Boehm.

Boehm does not feel pressured to do as well as his brother did.

“I don’t feel pressure but I’m trying to do well so I can get in college by playing football,” Boehm said.

Junior Kourtney West had two older sisters, Kiersten and Kayla, who excelled both academically and athletically. Kiersten is currently attending Washington University in St. Louis and Kayla is at Northwestern University in Chicago.

“It all started with Kayla and everything came easy to her. Kiersten followed in her footsteps so the pressure was always on me to do well,” said Kourtney.

Kourtney felt that her path was paved for her by her older sisters, so she was not able to completely be her own person.

“I’m not saying that who I am is a completely different person than who I would’ve been without older sisters but I feel like it definitely impacted me. With academics I’m expected to get good grades since it was so easy for my sisters even though I may not be as gifted as they were. Kayla kind of blew everyone away with her twelve Varsity letters and IB Diploma. That was something I couldn’t quite live up to,” Kourtney said.

Kourtney said it could feel as if she were competing for her parents’ attention.

“You always want to make your parents proud and in order to do that you feel like you have to do something huge to impress them. You can’t do something your siblings have already done. You have to top them which was always hard for me to do,” said Kourtney.

Living up to successful older siblings can take a toll on younger children, but these students all said that in the end, they are who they are.