In all areas of our lives, it is natural to compare ourselves to the other people around us. We want to know that we are “fitting in” and we want some kind of assurance that we are doing things right. So it’s natural to look for proof from our peers.
In most areas though, comparison is not very helpful or productive… It usually doesn’t come from a place of wanting to BETTER ourselves, it comes from a place of wanting to be accepted and LIKED. And as a parent, it can be harmful to your feelings of self worth, your parental decision making, and even your relationship with your kids.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be accepted and fit in within your community, but the problem with comparison is that it makes you lose track of your own inner compass that tells you if you are doing things the right way for YOU.
Often, we fall into comparing when we really need to be brave enough to trust ourselves and make a decision (whether big or small) that goes against the grain.
When it comes to parenting, comparison is dangerous not only to your feelings of self worth and trust in yourself, but to your kids’ belief in your authority and your word.
When your child asks you for something they want or to do something and you aren’t sure… it’s easy to fall into their arguments about how “all of their friends are allowed to.”
When you give into this argument, you teach your child that your word is not final and that you don’t have the trust in yourself to things your own way, just because it’s against the norm.
When facing these moments as a parent, you might waver back and forth within yourself and that is totally fine! But when you fall into their arguments based solely on comparison, it teaches your kids that being liked by everyone else is more important than being true to yourself and YOUR family’s values.
That’s not to say that you should shut down any argument your child makes for why they should be allowed something… Always listen to their arguments and give them fair consideration, but teach them the difference between doing something because others are and doing it, and doing it because it’s something that they want, need, or are ready for.
Don’t just listen to your own intuition about what is right for your kids, teach your kids to get in touch with their own inner knowing as well!
Getting stuck in a pattern of comparison makes you lose track of what you actually want for yourself and your kids. And it usually comes up in the moments when you are doubting yourself or your parenting decisions for one reason or another.
But comparing yourself to others never makes you a better parent and it doesn’t help you raiser stronger, happier, or more grounded kids.
For you, comparison leads to feelings of insecurity and a disconnect from your inner knowing. For your relationship with your kids, comparison leads to flip flopping and inconsistency which is unhealthy for your relationship with them.
It’s awesome to look to other parents for inspiration and ideas on how they handle difficult situations and to learn from each other. But when you use comparison as a way to judge how good of a parent you are or if you are doing things “right,” you fall into a never ending trap.
So HOW can you stop the comparison??
Like any bad habit, you have to train yourself out of it…
Start by just becoming aware. Really notice when you start comparing yourself the most. Is there a pattern? Does it relate to what is going on in your family at the time or is it always in the same areas?
Just putting awareness around it can start to teach you where the comparison is coming from and help you break the habit. Usually we compare ourselves the most harshly in the areas where we feel insecure. Is there a way you can take action to make those areas of your life feel better?
Whenever you notice yourself comparing… try thinking of one thing you have done in that area that worked really well and that you felt great about. Build your confidence around your strengths.
Now, you have to train your strongest tool against comparison. Your inner knowing or intuition.
When you start comparing, ask yourself some of these questions…
- Do I feel my child is ready for this?
- Is this a decision or lifestyle choice that feels fitting for my family?
- Would we be more connected if we had/did that?
- Would we have more joy/fun/laughter if we did that?
Now get more specific… fill in those questions with the words that are really important to YOUR family. If you haven’t worked out your Family Values together, sit down with your partner and your kids and jot down some words that resonate for all of you…
Fun. Laughter. Happiness. Connection. Gratitude. Tolerance. Communication. Love. Flexibility. Freedom. Acceptance. Tolerance. Confidence. Honesty. Kindness. Service. Unity. Faith. Patience. Learning. Integrity. Education.
Now practice… every time you catch yourself comparing yourself to other parent’s decisions, lifestyles, or values, just ask yourself….
Does this feel right for MY family? Is this in line with our Family Values?
Not only will you build confidence in your parenting and trust in your inner knowing, you will raise kids who know how to make decisions based on knowing themselves and what is right for them and not based on fitting in or doing things the “right” way.