“Check your privilege”: It’s a phrase heard quite frequently in today’s world. Privilege, as it is meant in this phrase, comes in various forms. Racial privilege, gender privilege, financial privilege: These are the types that get the most attention. There are, however, other forms of privilege that should be noted. One aspect that, I must admit, has led to my own privileged childhood is the fact that my parents did not get divorced.
Fifty percent of all children will experience the divorce of their parents. I was on the lucky side of that statistic. I am not saying that I had a better childhood because my parents stayed together. I am not saying that children of divorced parents are doomed, and I am not saying that parents who get divorced are bad people. None of these things are true. What does seem to be true, though, is the fact that a divorce-free home adds a level of stability to the life of the children in that home.
Growing up, I never had to wonder at which house I would be for Christmas morning. I didn’t have to have a bag packed with my clothes for whenever I needed to move between houses. I never had to deal with seeing my parents love someone new. These things may seem like a regular part of life for a lot of people, but, in reality, they can take a toll on a person. One study publicized by the Urban Institute notes the link between family instability and problems with both behavior and academics. When I think about this, I am forced to realize just how fortunate I have been.
When I stop to think about this privileged aspect of my life, it makes me reflect on some even larger issues. The children who grow up with divorce do not choose that for their lives. To add, the parents who decide to separate may not have much of a choice in the matter either. The situations that bring about disadvantage do not need to be looked at as a fault of anyone; in actuality, such situations are simply unfortunate results of life.
Now, this is only one type of privilege. Some types I have already mentioned, and still others, which are a bit more unconventional in our everyday thought, do exist. One thing which I believe is imperative in this day and age is that we recognize the areas of our lives where we are more privileged than others. Being given an advantage because of certain circumstances in life does not hinder your moral standing, but failing to recognize that you were given this advantage, does. We are not better people because of the privileges in our lives that we have done nothing to earn. This leads me to the second thing which I believe it is important for our society to recognize today; that is, there are people who are not dealt the same cards as we are. We do not all start from the same foundation. If we ever want to reach any level of equality, the first thing that must be taken into consideration is the level of privilege in each situation. Those without privilege in certain areas are not pity cases, but they should be given any advantage that can level the field of equality. Some may see such given advantages as unnecessary handouts, but those who see it this way are probably failing to recognize the privileged hand they have themselves been dealt. Privilege is a difficult idea to address; oftentimes, the language involved in dialogue regarding privilege is hostile and antagonistic. It does not have to be this way, and the first step to a better outcome is for all of us to truly recognize privilege for what it is, and for all of us to understand what it means for our society.