The Comparison Trap
Flashback to the early 1990s! I was a young mom, interested in homeschooling, who noticed all of these amazing, well-behaved children who respected their parents. I wanted children like that!
As time went on, our family thrived with homeschooling. However, my children squabbled with one another. They were not perfect. Sigh.
Comparing Ourselves to Other Families
Over the years, I met so many moms who did so many cool things. I discovered homeschooled children who could compose symphonies, translate Dickens into Latin, and win prizes at debates. My children didn’t want to stand in front of a crowd.
My kids are amazing, smart, funny…and flawed. Let’s face it; we are just an ordinary family who loves Jesus. And that’s okay. We don’t have to be The Incredibles with super powers.
To enjoy and appreciate my children for who they are, I had to ditch the idea of comparing them with other children. You see, I don’t know what goes on behind the front door of the child who can recite Bible verses in Hebrew, or the six-year old who can read Jane Austen, so I will never have the full picture.
I do know this: no family is perfect. Jesus was perfect, but even His family wasn’t. When I stopped looking at other families and started zeroing in on my own children, I could appreciate their gifts and live with their flaws.
My oldest daughter was a reader and a nurturer. I gave her plenty of books, and opportunities to love on her younger siblings, and other little ones at church, where she quietly served in the nursery and babysat.
Julianna was a strong leader, so I provided opportunities for her to manage projects, like getting us out the door for a field trip, when she was younger, and planning the details of our vacation when she got older.
I looked for their strengths and capitalized on them. Cultivating their strengths became a major focal point for me after I read a business article that said that successful people spent 70% of their time cultivating their strengths, 25% learning new things, and only 5% of their time overcoming weakness. Wow! I had really been focusing on overcoming all their weaknesses, so they could be like the other homeschooled kids I saw around me, or maybe like those ideal kids I saw in my mind.
Now, homeschoolers put a lot more time into learning than 25%, so I didn’t use this as a formula, but it certainly got me to thinking about cultivating strengths, which built their confidence, rather than making them feel, over and over, like they didn’t measure up.
My children didn’t like to get up in front of an audience, even though they were all gifted, musically. I did challenge them to learn to sing or speak in front of an audience, but I did it gently and slowly, building their confidence. They knew I wasn’t expecting, or even hoping, for them to be spotlight people, but I did want them to be able to communicate with others with confidence. Ironically, all of my children sing, play music, dance, or speak in front of others today. Am I surprised?
Not really. You see their “weakness” wasn’t really a weakness; it was fear. By focusing on their strengths and putting them in many comfortable situations where they could shine, they were then willing to step out in uncharted territory to try something new, even if it was out of their comfort zone.
Get Out of the Comparison Trap
How about you, Momma? Are you trying to fit your son or daughter into a mold? Do you want him to be like the boy next door, or her to be like the little girl in the homeschool co-op? You can get out of the comparison trap!
How? Start by listing your children’s strengths and then, beside each strength, list ways you can help them grow in their strengths. As you find ways to cultivate their strengths, you will begin appreciating the children the Lord has given you and letting them become who God has called them to be. After all, who can measure up in the comparison trap?
For More Encouragement
Here are some more posts to encourage and equip you to homeschool with joy and success:
Ladies Heart to Heart: Love Changes Everything (https://powerlineprod.weebly.com/blog/ladies-heart-to-heart-love-changes-everything)
You Are Loved (https://powerlineprod.weebly.com/blog/you-are-loved)
God bless you as you raise and teach your blessings!
Meredith Curtis, homeschooling mom, writer, speaker, and publisher, loves to encourage families in their homeschooling adventure. She is the author of Joyful and Successful Homeschooling (https://powerlineprod.weebly.com/joyfulhomeschool.html ) and A Wise Woman Builds Bible Study. You can check out her books, curricula, unit studies, and Bible studies at PowerlineProd.com (http://www.powerlineprod.com ). Free Reading Lists (http://www.joyfulandsuccessfulhomeschooling.com/books/reading-lists/ ) for all ages are available at JSHomeschooling.com (http://www.joyfulandsuccessfulhomeschooling.com/ ). Read her blogs at http://www.meredithcurtis.com/blog and https://powerlineprod.weebly.com/blog and listen to her at Finish Well Radio (http://ultimateradioshow.com/finish-well/ ).