Parenting can be a competitive arena. Whether it’s the type of activity a child is doing or where you are going for your winter break, some comparisons are overt and others are more subtle. Either way, they can leave you feeling unfulfilled and feeling like you are never doing enough.
Here’s 6 reasons why comparisons suck:
1. Wanting to be the best, isn’t always the best for you
How many people do you know that want to be the best at everything? Even if it costs them their health or relationships. Wanting to be better than everyone else, with no consideration for the costs involved is born out of a need to prove yourself. Children (and adults) fare much better and mentally healthier in the long term, when doing things out of choice with no need to prove anything.
2. They can be limiting
What if the person beside you has reached their peak and your capability goes way beyond this? If you are running your own race and exceeding your personal best each time, you build the capacity for limitless potential in you and your child. Don’t limit yourself or your child.
3. Stop you from playing your own game
A painter may not have balls skills. A mathematician may not be a natural dancer. A debater may not lean into empathy. Knowing what you are good at and more importantly what makes you feel energised will be the path of most fulfilment and least resistance. Living someone else’s path is destined for misery. Watching and validating your child when they are drawn to do what they love, not what you or their friends love, encourages them to play their own game.
Comparison is the thief of joy ~Theodore Roosevelt
4. Do things that are not important
There is no right or wrong in how you prioritise your day, your months or your years. Make sure you’ve taken time to consider your priorities and crafted your time accordingly, so you don’t end up doing the things that are not important. This will ensure your activity reflects your goals and what’s important to you. For example, choosing to slow down your career progression or business growth to spend more time with children is fine, equally going full steam in your career showing your children what’s possible, is fine too. Check in with your heart. It never lies.
5. The crowd may not be your people
Finding your people is considered one of the most determining factors to success. You are heavily influenced by who you hang around with (‘social proof’). In his book Influence: The Psychology of Pursuasion, psychologist Robert Cialdini writes “Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.” He concludes, ‘social proof ‘ is how we decide to act. It’s important to find people that reflect your values, especially in parenting. People who speak to their children in a way you respect. People whose priorities are similar to yours, people who have similar interests. Choose your crowd wisely and children will take this model into their choices too.
6. Distancing yourself from who you are
As an extension of the last point, the more you are immersed in environments that are not right for you, the more you distance yourself from who you are. Knowing yourself is critical to not needing to compete or go along with a crowd. What is your vision? What are your dreams? Where do you draw the line? What are your boundaries? Deep down you know when things are right for you and when they are not. To find your way back, keep tuning into yourself. Seek and ye shall find. Help your child tune into themselves too, they will soon discover the answers that are right for them.