The question for today comes from a facebook friend of mine. It seems that she has been struggling with competition with another mom friend of hers. Their children are very close in age and this other mother is constantly comparing them, and even ends up devastated if her child falls short in her eyes. She asked what she should do and how to best handle this situation.
This is such an easy thing to fall into, and if we're honest most of us mothers have done it ourselves at some point. If we're not comparing our kids to other kids, we're comparing them to their siblings. For example, my two oldest kids walked when they were 13 months and 2 weeks. Both of them were exactly the same in that area. Then came my youngest, she walked at 8 months old. I was shocked! Now I could have compared her to her brother and sister and thought of her as better because she walked sooner, but honestly, when a child walks is completely insignificant in the big picture of a child's life. Grades and sports are other areas that we compare our children to each other. When a child potty trains is often another area of comparison, and there are many others which are all equally as ridiculous.
So what is the very basic underlying issue when it comes to mom-petition? I believe that it is pride. Let's face it, for us mothers, especially stay-at-home-mothers, we can easily wrap up ourselves and who we are into our kids. We can feel like our worth is aligned with their success, even in small and seemingly insignificant issues. So when we see another child doing something better or sooner than our children, it can almost feel like a stab at our worth.
When dealing with this issue there are a few verses that you need to commit to memory. The first one is 2 Corinthians 2:12 which says "We would not dare put ourselves in the same class with, or compare ourselves to, those who recommend themselves. Whenever they measure themselves by their own standards or compare themselves among themselves, they show how foolish they are."
And verse 18 of that same chapter says "When people commend themselves, it doesn't count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them."
According to the bible, comparing yourself to anyone else is foolish and something we should never do. If you're going to compare yourself to anyone you need to compare yourself to Christ. Period. And as for comparing yourself to someone and thinking you're better in anyway is wrong. According to this verse, lets leave the commending of ourselves to Christ. After all, when it comes from Him it's so much more rewarding!
Now for the underlying pride issue, let's look at a few verses about pride.
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
"Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished." Proverbs 16:5
Pride is clearly a very ugly sin in the bible. In fact, pride seems to be the cause for the very first sin in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve became convinced that they knew more than God, not only that but they began to believe that they could be, and deserved to be, like God. Because of their pride they lost everything. A heart of pride is very clearly something to stay far away from!
Now, when it comes to your children it may seem innocent, and it may even start out that way but it doesn't stay there for long. That competitive, comparing spirit does so much harm in your life, your children's lives and the lives of those around you. You see, when you are constantly comparing your children to other children, or other kids to your kids, you can't take the time to fully appreciate who your kids are. All you can focus on is them being the best, and when they are not the best, they have failed.
You have to understand that any time you do this you are teaching your kids that they are not good enough unless they are the best at everything. Let's face it, there will always be someone out there that is better than you at something. So in essence, you are setting your kids up for failure from a very early age and teaching them that they will never be good enough. Our goal as parents is to teach our kids to do the best they can, not be the best.
I think the most important thing to remember anytime you are in this situation is found in Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
You see, God has a specific, unique plan and design for you child's life and comparing them to anyone else just gets in the way of that unique plan. They should never feel like they have to be like anyone else, you need to teach them to be confidant in who they are! One of my favorite quotes is "No one can be you like you can be you!". You know what, i'm not the best writer out there or the best wife or mom, but there is no one in this world who can be Jamie like I can be Jamie! I have been placed here for a specific reason that God Himself placed on my life. Your kids need to be raised with the confidence to say that about themselves and that will be so difficult for them to have if they are always taught to compare themselves to other people.
If this is something you struggle with I encourage you to stop right now! Talk to your child and explain to them that this attitude is not right, and be sure to include how very proud of them you are. Kids crave approval from their parents and it's so important that we give it to them!
If you are dealing with another parent constantly comparing their child to yours, I urge you to talk to them about it. Don't do it in the heat of the moment (if you're anything like me, it's too easy to let your emotions get the best of you) but try to find a time to sit down and talk to them about it. Let them know that this bothers you and bothers your children, if it does. Kindly ask them to stop and then if it comes up again I think it would be appropriate to remind them that you would rather they not do it anymore.
Most importantly, pray. Pray over the all the parents and children involved in the situation. God is a God of peace, not decinsion!
Each Friday I tackle the thoughts and questions of my readers. If there is something you would like me to discuss feel free to either leave a comment below, leave a comment on my Facebook Page or email me at joinmeforcoffeeblog(at)gmail(dot)com.
This post is linked up with Homemaker By Choice.