It’s human nature for parents to make comparisons between their children.
It can be how we gauge their development. “Jimmy crawled at 13 months old but Jenny is now already crawling at 10 months old.” It can be even more tempting to compare our little ones when they are twins. After all, they were born on the same day, they eat the same diet and they are being taught the same thing at once. There is nothing wrong with observing similarities in our children’s development but I think it can be dangerous if we dwell on it too long.
My twins are similar in some ways but in other ways they are polar opposites. Levi is very active and is constantly exploring. I’ve joked often that I could start a consulting firm where I take him to people’s homes and test their childproofing. If there is something to get into (even though other children have passed it over), he will find it! Lily on the other hand is peaceful and enjoys looking at books. She often will find a toy and play with it by herself for quite some time. She is happy in her own company and doesn’t need constant attention.
They are both over 15 months old now and Levi has been walking for 2 months. He can practically run now. Lily is still perfectly content to crawl everywhere. She stands well, cruises around on the furniture and rides around on her sit & ride zebra bicycle by herself. However, she has no interest in walking right now.
It can be tempting to compare our children to one another or even other people’s children of the same age. It can be easy to let fear in and begin to worry about their differences. But we need to remember that they are individuals and special in their own ways. God has gifted them with a unique set of talents in a combination that no one else in the world possesses. Please don’t misunderstand my example here. Sometimes there are things we notice in our children that could be developmental delays and we should bring them to the attention of our pediatrician. But we need to be careful about taking the default position of fear.
Furthermore, I think it can be hurtful to them to hear things like “Do this like your brother does it”. Our kids need our encouragement even at this young age. We need to point out their unique strengths at each opportunity we get. I’ll never forget the day that Lily pulled up on her walker and pushed it across the room. We cheered loudly and she had the biggest smile on her face. She had been watching her brother do it for weeks and she was so proud that she had finally done it herself!
Making comparisons in general can be risky for us adults.
Think about it. If you make a direct comparison with another mom – one of two conclusions will be reached. 1) That mom is so much better at this than me so I feel defeated and inferior. 2) I’ve got a handle on this but that other mom is clearly struggling so I feel prideful and judgemental.
We’ve all been in the situation where we are having such a hard time getting our kids to do something (eat, sleep, potty train, etc) and then we see that other mom who seems to master it in a breeze. It can make us feel like such a failure and then that mommy guilt kicks in and we think we’re not fit to raise anyone. This is just a lie from the devil that is intended to hold us back. When you begin to feel this way, focus on the positive things that have happened that day. Ask God to show you if there are any mistakes you are making and then recognize that your child is not the same as the other mom’s child. You are comparing apples to oranges!
I have to admit that I have gotten judgemental in crowded places like the zoo or a theme park. I get so frustrated seeing kids running around wild or running into me and then I see their parents are busy on their phones or just mentally checked out. We’ve all seen other moms do something and thought “I would NEVER let my kid do that”. We need to be careful about these thoughts though because they can create a lack of empathy. I think there is evidence of this in the recent public response to the small boy that fell in the gorilla enclosure and the 2 year old boy that was killed by an alligator at Disney. So many parents jumped to the conclusion that the boys’ parents must have been at fault. This world is full of condemnation and judgement but believers in Christ should be different. Our default reaction needs to be empathy, compassion and love. It should be one of understanding. We all fall short and it is only by the grace of God that most of us have been spared tragedy.
Galatians 6:2-5 (AMP) says: Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]. For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself. But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another. 5 For every person will have to bear [with patience] his own burden [of faults and shortcomings for which he alone is responsible]
Becoming a mom has really affected the way I respond to the failings of others. (Of course, I am still deeply flawed and just trying to work out my salvation through the Lord’s grace like everyone else. ) Before, I used to think when I have kids I won’t do so and so. My kids will be flexible and I won’t have to live by a feeding/napping schedule. (HA!!!) Then, I actually had kids and my perspective changed. I began to understand that there is so much about raising children (and especially twins) that is totally out of your control!!
“Finally, brothers (MAMA’S), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
I hope that I will get better in this area. I need to stop comparing myself to others and focus on what my strengths and weaknesses are and then give those to God. I also want to get to a place where my default reaction to people is one of compassion and empathy.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. (See my contact page)