I saw a very disturbing Pinterest description the other day that really made me stop in my track. The picture was of a cute little girl with a very stylish haircut. The description read, “50 cute haircuts for little girls to put you on center stage.”
After reading that I thought, “Are we really putting this undue pressure on our kids to make us look good?” Are we breeding an unhappy life in our children from the beginning because we compare them to others and judge by what they have and don’t have? I’m getting ahead of myself here so I’m gonna share a quick story that will segue into why we shouldn’t play the comparison game.
I also want to mention that I am in no way the perfect mom never comparing my kids to others but I do try to make a conscious effort not to and try to remind myself not to when others are speaking about their kids accomplishments or negative behaviors.
I was at Target the other day (funny how most things happen there) and I was in the toddler clothing section with another mom. I was perusing the discount section when I heard her child begin to cry. I thought nothing of it because that’s what kids do so I continued my shopping.
I don’t know what the mom was saying to her daughter because I was trying not to pay attention. But after one more correction, her daughter cries even louder as the mom proceeds to put her in the shopping cart. Then what I hear breaks my heart. The mom says to her toddler who is acting out, “Do you see anyone else acting like this?”. I thought to myself, “Honey, you caught on a good day because mine are usually the ones doing the crying.”
I wanted to go to the mom and say, “Don’t worry about it. Every kids does this.” but then I thought that would embarrass her more so I pretended not to hear her crying child. But I was saddened that she was comparing her crying child to mine.
Many times I’m not sure what to do when that happens because I want to be helpful and extend mercy. But what I don’t want to do is draw unnecessary attention to them either. In my head I have said what that mom said many times. “Why can’t my kid act like theirs?” Why do those kids get (insert whatever I’m coveting) and mine don’t.” “Why don’t my kids listen like theirs?”.
Here’s why we need to stop comparing…
1) It puts our kids on pedestals
When we compare our kids to someone else’s, our minds usually goes one of two ways. When we think, “Why can’t our kids be like them?” it shows that we have an expectation of what our child should be and it is not being met. This puts a harmful burden on our child that they are not good enough. They will begin to think that they can never do right by you. And, in doing this, you put someone else’s child on a pedestal.
Or we swing the other way and put our child on the pedestal. Thinking our child is better than everyone else’s setting them up for failure because they can “do no wrong”. This also puts a great deal of pressure on your child and they will become humiliated when they fail to meet with your approval. I feel this also encourages our children to be puffed up and that no one can do anything better than your child.
2) It creates an entitlement attitude
Our mentality is that we should always have the latest and greatest things. And when others have those things, we need them too. My child is just as good or better than yours (again comparing) therefore they need whatever that is to make your child great in the eyes of others. If their child has one, my child needs one too. (Whether or not you can afford one.)
The trouble with this mind-set is is that someone is always going to have something you want. Someone is always going to have a bigger house, more money, better clothes, better car or a “better life.” And if we are coveting and comparing ourselves to others you can bet that our kids will learn to do that as well.
Entitlement comes from a prideful attitude. Just like Eve in the Garden. She thought she should be entitled to know everything that God knows. Satan lies to us and tells us that if other children have it then so should then mine should too.
3) It teaches them to be ungrateful
It’s not enough to teach a child to parrot the word ‘thank you’ when they are given something. We need to really encourage gratefulness in our children.
We will never teach our kids to be thankful and grateful for what they have if we are always trying to keep up with what the world tells us we need. Are we purposefully thankful in front of our kids to help them learn to be thankful? Or do we nitpick and complain that we don’t have the newest iPhone or the lastest fashion?
If we do not make a conscious effort to be thankful in front of our kids, they will learn that they will always need something new and fantastic to make them happy. Madame Blueberry, anyone?
4) It fosters discontent among theirs peers
Children at a young age become aware that others have things that they don’t have. I remember being envious when I saw friends or relatives opening presents that I wish I had.
I am beginning to have the mind-set not to open gifts in front of other children because I don’t want to teach them to be envious of my child. Or to teach mine to be envious of other children.
How do you teach a 3-year-old to be happy with what some else has that they don’t? I admit I am not always quick to be happy when someone gets something that I have always wanted. I received many wonderful gifts from my family when I was younger so I wasn’t lacking in gifts but maybe those ideas of discontent stem from comparing my gifts to those around me?
5) It teaches them that their self-worth comes from others and things
When we teach our children to compare what they have with others it begins to shape their thinking that their self-worth comes from what they own and how they look. I do think it is important to look nice and presentable but we need to look at why our kids should be presentable.
Do we want them to have the best because we want people to admire us and how our kids look? Or should they be dressed decently in clean clothes because we are a reflection of Jesus Christ?
Look, I’m not down on moms who want to dress their kids in cute clothes. More power to ya. But when I see that your child HAS to have name brand clothes I feel like their attire is more about you then them simply being dressed.
And then when you get frustrated with them because they spilled food on the clothe you spent x amount of money on, you are telling them that their clothes are more important then their feelings getting hurt.
So what it really boils down to is this…
Are we trying to help them be more like Christ today than they were yesterday?
That’s the only comparison we should making of our children because He’s the only one worth emulating.
I am on this journey of Motherhood like all moms. I, again, am not perfect in this but who wants to join me in a pact of teaching humility and gratefulness to our children?
Think I am crazy or are you crazy with me? Let me know in the comments below!