Do you remember the girl in high school who seemed to have it all? Great grades, trophies in multiple sports, good looks, and musical talent on top of it all. Plus, she was nice, so it made it hard to hate her. I’ve always wondered how some people can be abundantly gifted while others struggle to excel in just one area in spite of great effort.
Now that I’m an adult, I don’t necessarily look at other moms and compare myself, but I’ll confess that sometimes I have had to fight the temptation to look at “my kid” vs. “her kid.” Have you ever thought any of these?
- Her kid is walking at nine months. Should mine be?
- He’s reading at three?? I have work to do.
- She has already started music lessons and she’s four. I better get mine signed up for something.
- Her son’s GPA is over a 4.0. My kid can’t even get a 3.0.
- Their daughter got into Harvard and mine doesn’t even want to go to college.
It’s a Trap
Comparing your kid to another is a dangerous trap. The temptation to do this doesn’t serve anyone well. First, it devalues your own child and the gifts he/she has been given. Second, it stirs bad feelings within yourself, maybe even causing you to question your own abilities as a mother. Finally, it has the potential to damage relationships.
Focus on Strengths
Your child can’t be good at everything, even if some kids seem to be gifted with more talent than others. Unfortunately, a lot of positive qualities don’t necessarily earn awards. Your child might be a great listener, a helpful servant, a caring friend, a compassionate giver, or a wonderful sibling. These are all amazing qualities, but you may never see their name in print for them. Don’t devalue a trait or ability just because there isn’t a ribbon for it. Wonderful character traits are worth celebrating.
Be careful what you wish for when it comes to your kids. High achievement can potentially come at a price. I worry about this a lot with my own boys. Growing up, I had perfectionistic tendencies. This caused me a great deal of stress in my life and is something I’ve worked on, but still battle. I don’t want that for them. Those kids who strive for great accomplishments can succumb to poor choices that can lead to things like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. Success in the world’s eyes can come at a cost. Promoting a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle will likely serve them better than pushing them to get straight A’s or being the best in their sport. And, let’s face it, some kids push themselves without our help. Watch your child carefully if they have this tendency.
As a fellow mom, one of the best things you can do is celebrate the accomplishments of your friends’ kids. You know what it feels like when your child does something amazing. You’d love to shout it to the world, even if you choose not to. When your friend shares one of her kid’s successes with you, show genuine enthusiasm. If she posts something on social media, offer a compliment. Cheer others on towards their goals.
Do not judge your success as a parent by the accomplishments of your children. Just because your kid struggles with reading doesn’t make you a bad mom. Just because your kid comes in first place regularly doesn’t make you a better mom than your friend whose child comes in last. Let’s love our children to the best of our abilities and be a cheerleader for those around us. Remember, some of the most successful people in the world weren’t the best students or most talented musicians or athletes. Enjoy your child for who he/she was designed to be.