Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Comparison is the thief of joy, right? And it KILLS our mindset when it comes to our kids. Think about it.

“My child is not walking yet, and hers is walking already.”

“She breasted for a year and a half, and I only made it 10 months.”

“My boy is fast just like that kid. Why isn’t he playing?”

“He doesn’t catch any better than mine. Can’t mine be the shortstop?”

“My daughter has danced for five years just like her. Why isn’t she in the front row?”

“She got moved up a level, and my kid works just as hard but didn’t.”

We do this, don’t we? We watch what’s going on around us, compare it to our situation, and try to figure it out. We wonder why they get to do it but we don’t. We brood over whether or not ours is as fast as the others, as flexible, as smart, as developed. We question the teacher and complain to the coach.

Our brains get twisted, and we get bitter and resentful. And you know what that does? It flows into our kids.

It teaches our kids to compare, too. It teaches them to look at what everybody else is doing, where they’re going, what they’re getting, and to use that has a gauge for evaluating themselves rather than focusing solely on their personal best.

It teaches our kids to compete. By placing your kid side by side with another and checking the boxes, we teach our kids to figure out how to get those boxes checked in order to one-up the other kid, or God forbid, please us.

It teaches our kids to set unrealistic goals and expectations for themselves. Aren’t we supposed to only be better than the person/dancer/baseball player/gymnast/rider that we were last week? Can’t we strive just to focus on improving our own time? Shouldn’t be setting goals based on our own capabilities and working to smash them?

It teaches our kids to devalue themselves based on circumstances they can’t control. Some children are naturally flexible, were born to run, have an eye for art, have beautiful singing voices. When we compare, our kids learn to try to match others on an uneven playing field, and they end up feeling deficient because they can’t be where the other kids are through no fault of their own. Nature makes some decisions for us.

It teaches our kids to feel less-than. Comparison teaches our kids that the bar is set “here”, and they need to reach it, rise to the occasion, be as good as. They end up feeling defeated when they can’t quite get there, and confidence drops. Low self esteem is not a good thing for developing kids.

It teaches our kids that they are a victim. That teacher should have put you up front with those girls. That coach should have let you play as much as he played. That trainer should have given you more time like he did for her. Maybe so. Teachers, coaches, and trainers are not always perfect people. But most of them care, truly get to know your kids, and make decisions that are best for the child and the team (even if you don’t see it or agree with it).

So instead, what if we met our kids where they are? What if we didn’t worry so much about OUR plans for them and asked them about THEIR plans? What if we took a careful look into our child’s individual performance in the classroom, on the field, in the arena BEFORE we questioned the teacher or complained to the coach? What if we remembered that we have no idea what goes on in other households, in other kids’ minds, and in other parents’ hearts?

Our kids are great. They are unique and specially created with their own talents, imaginations, and strengths, as well as with their own struggles, deficiencies, and limitations. Their bodies are built differently. Their minds think differently. They are not the same…but they are all fantastic, growing, developing human beings who need an opportunity – a clear path – for becoming what THEY want to be with THEIR individual abilities in mind.

Let’s catch ourselves next time we compare. I want to be better at focusing on my own kid, truly looking at what SHE is all about, what SHE is capable of, and how I can help HER be her best. It has nothing to do with anyone else. I want to be better at supporting the teacher and the coach. I want to be better at helping her evaluate herself and set realistic goals specific to HER abilities.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy in life. Let’s don’t allow it to take us over, make us miserable, and mess up our kids. We got this.

Published by Amanda Herring, Writer

Practical wisdom, joys and pains, motivation and tough love, from the perspective of a Mississippi mom, traveler, business owner, goal crusher, substance seeker, and full-time dreamer

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