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I have always been bad at not comparing myself to other people. When I was growing up, I would compare how smart I was to other people, how pretty (or not pretty) I was compared to other people, how well I could sing, how much I knew, etc. I was constantly comparing myself to others, as if I should use them as my measuring stick.
And as I’ve gotten older and gotten married and had kids, it’s gotten both better and worse all at the same time. In some ways, I compare myself less and in other ways, I compare myself more.
Like in parenting.
Let’s just talk about parenting comparison for a second.
Because it is very easy in parenting to compare yourself to others and feel superior to them. You can feel that your methods and practices are the best and clearly you are winning and clearly you would never do what that other parent does. My child is better than so-and-so’s child. My child is better behaved than so-and-so’s child.
But it is also just as easy to compare yourself to others and feel inferior to them. You can feel that what you’re doing is less good and only if you could provide your child with the same things the other parent does, your child would be better off. Or your child is slow to develop a skill when other babies can do that already. Or your child is a little more adventurous and creates a few more messes and is a little more restless compared to a child who sits perfectly still and content when they should be.
This happens in so many areas of parenting – formula/breastfeeding, cry-it-out/wait-it-out, organic/non-organic, baby led weaning/traditional weaning, strollers/baby wearing, gentle parenting/spanking, homeschooling/brick and mortar schooling, vaccination/non-vaccination, co-sleeping/not co-sleeping, the level of cleanliness of your home, and so many more. (P.S. if you are wondering why I didn’t use versus, it’s because it’s not a competition and it’s not an all or nothing either in many cases!)
In either way, comparing hurts you. When you feel inferior, it can lead to a cycle of self-shaming and self-hatred which I can speak from experience is not helpful and results in a lot of tears and feeling like you are doing nothing right. It leads to a lack of productivity and a lack of motivation.
But feeling superior is no good either. It can keep you from forming friendships and learning from other parents. It holds you back, in other words.
Comparison is a joy stealer. It just is, plain and simple. There’s one thing who you should compare your parenting to and that’s the Bible, because God’s laid out some pretty clear standards for us in how we are to treat others (our children included). Children are not possessions – they are people and deserve to be treated as such. The rest of the comparisons out there? You’re comparing yourself to humans – in who knows what situation and what kind of kids.
The comparison game ends here. At least I’m going to try. And I’ll probably fail, but at least I know what I’m working towards.