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. 🙂