MOMentum · motherhood · Spiritual Musings · women's ministry

Burden Builder #2: Comparison part b

Anyone who doesn’t think women are as competitive as men has never been to a preschool playgroup. We already talked yesterday about our ranking system with one another, but we have another ranking system with regard to our children. Are they normal? Are they bright? Are they godly? Are they winsome? Do they fit in? Are they leaders? Are they followers? These are important questions to ask ourselves, actually. We need to be evaluating where our children are doing well and where they need to grow. It’s part of our role in raising them. But when that desire to be discerning morphs into disappointment, fear, or discouragement over where you think your child should be by comparing with others, an unnecessary weight of burden grows, and as a result your children may not feel like the blessing they are.

I did this when my kids were little. How do they compare with newborn development milestones? (Holding their heads up, rolling over, putting hands together, sleeping through the night.)Where did my toddlers rate on the willing eater chart? How well did I train them to share toys, obey me, take a nap? How much t.v. and video time does my child watch compared to other children? Potty training? Public restaurant behavior?  There are sooooo many areas in which I compared my poor children. And with the comparison my flimsy joy would rise and fall.

I did this a lot with homeschooling. Its a whole new field for comparison! I remember talking to another mom about what her son would read and think that my sons were so far behind by comparison. (Just even the fact that her son would choose to read for leisure would make me cringe when I think of the manipulation tactics I have always had to use to get mine to sit with a book!) Or,  I remember seeing my daughter’s spelling in a note she wrote to a friend and there was a twinge of pain because I happened to know what an amazing speller (reader, and all around good student) this little friend was.

I do this now with spiritual maturity. I love the fact that our youth group has so many godly young men and women, but I can look at my sons and think they are doing pretty well, but not as well as so and so. I wish they would be less in bondage to fear of man and more bold to lead in godliness like some of the other boys.

The problem in my comparing isn’t that I’m seeing areas in my children’s lives that could use attention. I wanted my toddlers to eat well, get potty trained, and be relatively well-behaved in public. I still want to help my children grow in their love of reading. I want my daughter to learn to spell better. I want my sons to be godly leaders among their peers. The problem is that if I compare my kids with other people’s kids, I often miss the blessing of seeing the grace of God already at work in my own children’s lives.

I miss that while my boys don’t like to sit for an hour and read, they do like to be with people and socialize. None of them would prefer to be home with a book instead of with people. I think that is a blessing!

I miss that while my daughter was having trouble spelling, she wanted to write a note to encourage her friend. Maggie is very much inclined to write encouragement notes. Who cares about the spelling?! What a blessing.

I miss that while my boys are still finding their way among new friends, they have grown in their walk with the Lord in many ways. They are serving at church and reading their Bibles. They are surrounded by godly role models that make it “cool” to be serious about their walk with the Lord. What a blessing!

So be careful, moms not to compare in a way that robs you of the joy in your own children. Isn’t it amazing that God is at work in the littlest lives? Take time to think through the areas that you may think your children don’t stack up and see if there is a different blessing to be noticed in them. I am sure you will find what you are looking for!

I’m going to stop here. I’m still not finished with the topic of comparison, though. I think one more day but next time dealing with comparing our children to one another. In the meantime, I’d love to hear in the comments about where you tend to compare your children. How do you change your perspective about your kiddos when you’re tempted to be discouraged with slow progress in an area? Are their ways you can prepare yourself before a situation of comparing occurs (like before play group, co-op, youth group, parent/teacher conference, etc.), as well as after a situation of comparing occurs?

If you haven’t noticed, the comment box has been full of really great wisdom on these topics. It’s worth clicking in just to see what some of my wise and godly friends are saying about these topics. 🙂


7 thoughts on “Burden Builder #2: Comparison part b

  1. UGH, the comparison trap! I *know* how foolish it is but I still fall into it all.the.time.

    What’s even more ridiculous is that when I start looking for my kids’ strengths instead of noticing where they fall short compared to other kids…then I am so easily tempted to fall into pride about how they are BETTER than other kids! *facepalm*

  2. As a Mother with a special needs child, this was a great struggle when my son was first diagnosed. I would be so consumed with the fact that he was not “normal”, that I would be too hard on him. In the years that have followed I have grown to see what a blessing he truly is. I would not trade him, or his disability, for the world. God made him perfectly to be who he is, and he has taught my husband and myself so much! If I do any comparing now, it is on the positive side. How loving and caring he is to others, how he loves the world and everyone in it. There is not a stranger in his world and he is such a happy boy. Sure there are challenges, but they are not the focus of our thoughts. Looking to the positive things about your children keeps you from comparing in a negative way.

  3. That is great advice, Laurie, to prepare oneself before times of temptation if it is an area that consistently tempts. For me, right now it is when the neighborhood boys play football and mine are the only 2 (boys) not playing f-ball but dress ups and doing the imaginary play still.

    WHat has really helped me in this area is to think ahead down the road at how their inclinations could serve them, their families and ultimately the purposes of the Lord. My hubby reads a lot and remembers details and will often share stories with me of people who are successful in some area but had some kind of quirk or inclination that eventually led them down a specific road of success. And, I’m not just talking wordly success in terms of financial gain and fame, but also and more importantly success in the eyes of the Lord.

    I think of John Piper’s testimony and what a loner he confesses he was and fearful especially of public speaking. NOW…look at how God has used Him and grown him. amazing!

    So, basically I try to project into the future, using my imagination a bit on the great ways God could use the quirks or inclinations or lack of interest in various areas of life to my child’s benefit and God’s glory. And, then I pray God would make it happen and cause me to speak faith into my child’s life.

  4. I wish I had gotten to read this whole thing before the play group I went to today! The comparison for me came in when the other moms started talking about the wonderful things their children will eat and I either sit there in self-righteousness or complete comdemnation… “I’m the best mom because I don’t worry about food so much” to “I’m the worst mom because my children have cavities and probably wouldn’t if they ate better… and will probably die from cancer in their 20’s because we don’t eat organic.” I can’t find the right middle ground. How do I humbly hold the opinion that I’m doing what I believe is best for MY family (not your family, but MY family) but still be humble and learn from others without going into comdenmation or self righteousness? The conversations I used to struggle with were about vaccinating or not vaccinating, now it’s about homeschool versus public school… what’s after that? When will my heart ever be at peace?

    So I guess I’m not comparing my children to other children so much right now, but my opinions to other mom’s opinions. I like my kids and their personalities for the most part… we bump heads, but I like their outgoing personalities. If Lucy ends up being quiet, I’ll probably struggle with that more then my loud and vivacious kids. But I’m really struggling with the comparing myself to other mom’s part of this coin.

  5. Julie,
    We have to wrestle our hearts down, don’t we, especially in this area of comparing? I can very much relate with your struggle to discern and walk out a path of grace that lives her life for GOd alone, makes decisions per her conscience and what she feels is best for her family but is also open to learning and being challenged by others without being condemned.

    And, boy can we ladies talk with such earnest, can’t we on all kinds of topics? I have to be ever careful of this myself. I’m a passionate girl whose got lots of opinions (too many and less as I age) and likes to talk (too much and less as I age). 😉

    A scripture that I have to oft remind myself of is from James…”be quick to listen, slow to speak…slow to become angry”…When in group settings, I have to tell myself this over and over. Once I get started talking on something, I can’t shut up. It’s almost an out of body experience…like my mind is saying, “Shut up already” but my mouth just keeps talking, talking, talking…this helps me at times when the shoe is on someone else’s foot and they may be talking w/ great passion about matters of secondary importance….like what to feed our families, what schooling options are best, etc.

    That’s not to say I don’t take to heart what others share, but I take it to heart prayerfully and if something is pricking my conscience or causing me to consider making a change of practice in the way I order my day and manage my family, I talk w/ my hubby. If I’m just bugged by an opinion someone else shared or feel condemned by it, I try to talk that out w/ the Lord and my hubby as well. My hubby is really excellent about not getting caught up in the emotions of it all but discerning what is really going on in my heart as it responds to those community conversations we as women have.

    We are such an asset to one another as women…I have learned so much from other women, been spurred on greatly in many manifestations of godly living. But, we can also be a tool of the enemy to bring confusion and cause us to take our eyes off Christ and onto 2ndary issues. Remember who the real enemy is when this’s not other opinionated women…it’s not flesh and blood. And, ask the Lord to help you fight for unity among the sistas. 🙂

    that was really too long for a comment, but I’m sitting in bed resting b/c I have apparently not done a good job w/ my boundaries this week and am now crashing, crashing, crashing!

  6. Thank you Briana. I appreciated the scripture you brought to bear… not an opinion on how you do it, but God’s truth! Thank you for pointing me back to God’s Word! And I can so relate to the “would I just shut up already” feeling!

    And I do love the women I have the privilege to be “mom friends” with… some of these women I’ve been friends with since we were the kids! What a wonderful thing to raise our children together to love the Lord… I think I’m feeling particularly burdened by secondary issues as you so kindly pointed out!

    Clicked on your blog and loved it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

    And Laurie, I am being greatly challenged by this series… keep it coming sister!

  7. Ah yes. I do this as well, of course. Most especially in church on Sunday mornings. Part of this is I’m truly trying to figure out what my kids are capable of. I don’t want to have to low/high expectations. But I can look around and see other kids my kids age sitting/standing so well in church while mine are crying because they lost their peppermint under the seats a few rows up or start wallowing in their seats with their feet in the air. Sundays continue to be such a challenge. And honestly, it’s better if Josh’s not there! For some reason when he is it’s worse!!! Anyway, Sundays are the worse for falling into the comparison trap with my kids. Other Sundays they do great! I can never figure out a rhyme or reason why some are better than others. 🙂

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