In a world made up of milestone charts and peer-to-peer comparison, Day 11 Stop Comparing Your Child shows how becoming a better mom is sometimes as simple as accepting our children for who they are and WHERE they are developmentally, socially and athletically.
The Grass Is Always Greener…
We’ve all heard that saying “The grass is greener on the other side”…but one of my very favorite writers in the world, Erma Bombeck, once wrote a collection of essays called The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank. (If you have never heard of her or this book, I suggest you check it out right away! She passed away many years ago but her humorous take on real life is just as relevant today).
But before I digress too much, the point is this: When it comes to our children, if, as moms, we spend all of our time comparing our kids to the latest development chart, or our neighbor’s kids, or….gasp…our other children, we are never going to be able to appreciate the wonderful, unique gift right in front of our eyes.
Those Pesky Milestone Charts
Now, don’t get me wrong…I think it’s important to be aware of physical and cognitive developmental milestones in babies and toddlers…walking, talking, the ability to eat certain “real” foods. These are important. But if you ever really notice, there are typically pretty wide time parameters on what is “normal” for your child.
I remember my first daughter was a relatively early walker at 10 months. Well, when baby #2 rolled around, I was frantic when she hit 10 months and WAS NOT walking! What?! Is there something wrong? Did I not love her enough???
Month 11 came and there she was leaving me in the dust. And what good did the worry help?
I have a good friend whose daughter didn’t really walk until 16 months…and she is totally normal.
But if she had gotten so wrapped up in comparing her daughter to the “norm” she would have lost a lot of extra lap snuggles in between.
This same train of thought goes to comparing your child to their classmates, or your neighbor’s child.
When my Hannah was reading at a D level and some of her classmates were reading at an F, I had to just let that go. Her teacher assured me Hannah was well within the progression she needed to be for Kindergarten. So wondering why she wasn’t better at reading wasn’t going to help her or me.
She would have picked up on my tension and my constant pushing and that could have easily made her dislike reading at all! And what a horrible shame that would have been.
Comparison Seems So Natural
I think it’s so easy for us to compare our children and it really goes to the root of our own human nature. We are wired to compare and contrast…it’s ingrained in us to see if we are up to par so to speak. School report cards, job evaluations, sports teams…we are always comparing and being compared to other people in our same situation.
And I get it…there has to be some standards by which we are measured and in turn, by which we measure our own children’s progress.
But let’s just assume here that your child is developmentally on target (walking, talking, etc)…what will you gain by comparing your son to his classmate?
When you wonder if he can add fast enough, kick the ball hard enough, make friends as easily…what you are really wondering is if he’s as good as so and so.
When you KNOW in your heart…he is.
Because he is your child. And he is your son. And he is a gift from God. And while his strengths may not be the same as what you had envisioned, they are there.
Maybe your daughter is a whiz on computers. Maybe she has a voice that sounds like angels singing. Maybe your child has an amazing imagination and can get lost in a world of his own creation for hours at a time.
And maybe your son is the first one to notice when you’re having a rough day and he runs up to smother you with hugs and kisses. Maybe your daughter is the first to include the little girl at school who always gets left out. Maybe your son sticks up for the “outcast” when the bully shows up.
These are important things.
These are important things.
These are skills that will carry these kids through many obstacles and challenges. They may not be tick marks on a growth chart but, in many ways, they matter much, MUCH more.
And these are the skills and traits we can and should foster in our children – kindness, love, respect, empathy.
So while I certainly don’t think we should ignore all the other milestones, I know that in most situations, those will come in due time with love and support from me.
But the things I really want my child to have…the kind of person I want them to be…the way I want them to treat me, others and themselves…for that there is no comparison.
If you have missed any in the series 31 Days & 31 Ways To Be A Better Mom, catch up here:
INTRO TO SERIES:
DAY 1: OUR BEFORE SCHOOL RULE
DAY 2: UNPLUG AND PLUG IN
DAY 3: STEP AWAY FROM YOUR CHILD
DAY 4: EMBRACE YOUR CRAZY
DAY 5: BE A REBEL
DAY 6: DO AS I SAY
DAY 7: FIND YOUR VILLAGE
DAY 8: DIVIDE & CONQUER
DAY 9: ONE SMART COOKIE
DAY 11: STOP COMPARING YOUR CHILD
DAY 12: TAKE CARE OF #1
DAY 13: DATE YOUR CHILD
DAY 17: PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
DAY 18: QUIT BEATING YOURSELF UP
DAY 22: FAMILY DINNER SHMINNER
DAY 23: REBELLION IS A CRAZY THING
DAY 24: TELL THEM IT WILL GET BETTER
DAY 26: IT’S OKAY TO WISH TODAY WAS OVER
DAY 27: BE A GOOD DAUGHTER
DAY 28: QUIT TRYING TO BE THAT OTHER MOM
DAY 29: YOU CAN’T BUY THEIR HAPPINESS
DAY 30: TELL YOUR KIDS YOU ARE A FAILURE
DAY 31: LEARNING TO LET GO