As humans we have this natural instinct to look at someone else’s lawn so to speak. A war is weighing on us that we sometimes aren’t even aware of. This, I believe, is one of the downfalls for parents. One of the things that wares us down, breaks our spirit, and crushes our love of parenting.
A lot of times we can fall into a rut where parenting becomes a chore, a job, or just plain aggravating. The culprit? Comparison. We compare ourselves to others on a daily basis. From the cars we drive, to the clothes we wear, to our performance on the job. Regrettably on my part, this fountains over into parenting as well.
Not all forms of comparison can be negative. But when it’s hurting you as a parent or can hurt another parent, this is when we begin taring ourselves and others down. I have found myself comparing my children’s clothing to others. I must be a better parent because I can get nicer things. I must love my children more… but these thoughts aren’t true at all. Or how about comparing how we dosicipline our children? I’ll look at fellow parents and decide they just don’t care about what their kids do obviously sense they do not discipline them the same way I do! But again, this too is false. Here’s one that’s really hard for me to admit… my daughter must be smarter than the other kids her age and talk better because I actually spend time working with her. Shameful. -my daughter is smart because she just catches onto things quickly. Not because I am an amazing parent and others are not.-
When we begin comparing ourselves more in the positive light (like myself) we are putting down other parents that are probably doing a better job than we, or are doing the best they can. Or we are comparing ourselves on the negative side. Thinking we can’t afford the great things for our children that our neighbor can. This must mean we’re doing something wrong. Or so and so’s children are much better behaved than our own. I must be a horrible parent.
In fact, just as we are all different as parents, children are all different as well. I am learning this now. Both of my children are so different from each other. I mustn’t think that the same disciplinary actions will work for both, or that they will like the same toys and T.V shows. It would be silly to think this. So it is silly to think that just one parenting style is right; that one parenting style is superior to another. Parenting styles adjust from child to child because all children are not the same. What works for you may not work for your neighbor. What works for your first born may not work or be in the best interest of your second child.
Before we compare our parenting to someone else’s, we have to remember that, like the stones in the photo above, we are stacked differently. Built and wired differently. If your parenting style is working for you keep at it! You must be doing something right. As soon as you look at your neighbors lawn you may compare and begin to trim yours differently, trim yours more like theirs. When what your lawn needed was to be exactly the way you had it. Maybe you are noticing that something you are doing just doesn’t seem to be working. That’s completely okay! But instead of beating yourself down and comparing your ability to parent to your neighbor, seek a little advice. Maybe a tactic or tool a friend has used to parent may help you out. Hey, maybe something you do could help a friend. (That’s what my entire blog is about.. debunking children and sharing tools and tricks that have worked for me it hopes that it can help you. Your comments are appreciated as you may have ideas for me as well! Please share them.)
There is a way to discuss different parenting styles without having to use comparison negatively. Helping each other makes us better people and better parents. Comparing ourselves to one other can do irreparable damage to us and our children.
Let’s worry about how we can become better parents without trying to be better than another parent. This is when parenting becomes a chore, a war, a tiresome job. As I’ve mentioned being the best parent I can be is very important to me. But I’ve noticed that when I stop getting there by comparing myself to other parents, and just stay in my lane and be the best parent for my own children, parenting is fun, exciting, and a joy. At times…. let’s not kid ourselves.. all the time it’s tiresome. But I go to bed at night with a smile.
So stack your own stones anyway you like. In the end, everyone’s pile will look a little different but that’s what makes the world a beautiful place.
Your fellow parent,