Set Comparisons Aside
I have always found it hard to get back to our school schedule after the holidays have passed. Facing the later half of the school year, I constantly analyze how my kids are doing with our curriculum and how I can push them further. Worst of all, I catch myself comparing their growth and progress to that of their peers.
It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of comparing our kids. From the time they are born they are categorized on growth and development charts. We worry if they are not meeting standardized weight, despite being in good health. We brag how strong they are if they roll over early, but heaven forbid anyone notice if they are late on potty training.
Comparison does not stop with the early years. It continues into academics, talents, physical beauty and more. The fact is, years from now an employer will not care if your child did not read until third grade. Equally, a college professor does not want to know at what age your child mastered potty training.
Too often, the comparisons we make come out in conversations. I’ve heard excited young moms sharing how their baby had begun walking, and another mom will counter with how hers had walked at an even younger age. The same thing occurs with academics. I experienced a friend looking at a book my son was reading, and abruptly announced it was too easy for his age. I wanted to defend him by explaining he was in eye therapy, and the larger print did not tire his eyes as quickly.
When we compare our children, we’re actually questioning ourselves. We are measuring our own success or failure by the progress of our kids. If they are doing well, we want to brag and get some parenting credit. When they face struggles, we want to make excuses for them. Sometimes we unintentionally tear down others so our child’s challenge does not reflect poorly on us.
The times I catch myself comparing, I reflect on a word picture I use with my kids:
Imagine God gave everyone a candle. No one candle burns brighter than another. Each individual has a choice of how to use their candle. Someone may try to blow your candle out in an effort to make theirs burn brighter. Others may put their candle next to yours to make yours burn brighter.
When someone shares an accomplishment of their child, don’t start talking about how your kid did something similar. Celebrate with them instead. There will be time to share the progress of your children, but not when it’s at the expense of another parent’s excitement.
If you need parenting encouragement, go to a trusted friend that will build you up. Our kids are going to have struggles. They each will grow and progress differently. Be a trusted friend that is willing to listen and pray if a parent shares a struggle.
Making comparisons can result in damaged relationships and wounds to our children. There will always be someone trying to blow out your candle. Know they are trying to make their own light burn brighter. Maybe they just need some encouragement. Instead of comparing, be that mom that puts your candle next to theirs. Rejoice with them. Encourage them. Set comparisons aside and use your light to help them shine.
Teresa is a wife and busy homeschooling mom. With a passion for writing, she shares the adventures and lessons of her faith, family and homeschool.