Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Life Lessons # 3 {the disease of parenting comparrison}

I remember before I had kids

All the things I thought I would or wouldn't do. 
 The times I said " I won't EVER do that" 

The ways I looked at others parents with screaming kids in the store and thought, "psshhh my kids won't ever be like that."

The time I told a friend, " I will NEVER let my kids eat in the car"

The way I thought I was going to be a totally awesome parent, better than the rest.

And then something really humbling happened.  I had kids.  And now lots of them.

I have given in

Had a screeming kid(s) in the store

And, I let my kids eat in the car like all day long.

I have learned to have a little more grace toward my own parents, my friends, and the mom who has the screaming toddler, because I don't know why the heck they are screaming and it is not always as simple as it seems.

But one thing that I have been guilty of and am still guilty of is this disease our culture has, the disease of "parenting comparison"

It is so hard for our generation, so hard not to compare, with facebook, blogs, magazines, all the social media. You either find yourself thinking you are a terrible parents or you find yourself thinking you do things better or wondering why a parent would ever do such a thing!  I mean, I must be a better parent, right?  Wrong.  Stop for just a second, stop comparing.  I don't even parent my own children the exact same way, so why would I expect another parent to parent exactly like me.  And you aren't a bad parent at all, nothing is ever as it seems online.

I am so guilty of this, that is why I am writing about it.  It has been one of my biggest life lessons, just to simply stop judging and comparing myself to other parents.  Not all people, including my friends are going to make the same decisions for their children, but its ok, because they aren't my kids.  Really what it comes down to is that other parents love and care for their children and are not harming them, it doesn't matter if they use the same diapers as me, home school, vaccinate or not, that is really their business.   I may not agree on some things, but I don't have to judge them. 

I do think their are decisions and things we can do as parents that can make our lives easier, less stressful and more able to enjoy parenting, so sometimes it is hard to watch parents caught in the the trap of exhaustion and stress from choices they have made, but I need to let them figure that out.  I don't need to give unsolicited advice or judgement.  If someone really wants advice they will ask.

I think the best way to learn is always by example.

I have seen children, who are exceptional, and that is when I ask, ask the parent "what did you do, what are you doing, tell me your secrets"  They don't have to solicit their opinion on me, because I can see the fruit of their labor.  

I first did this with my best friend Sarah, I saw her baby girl, the way she behaved, the way she slept, her general demeanor.  I saw good parenting and Sarah didn't have to say a word to me because I could see it all and so I asked! 

I do remember one mom telling me, "you will find that people who parent similar to you is who you will be closets to" and it is so true! My closets friends have similar parenting styles, but it doesn't mean I can't be friends with those that aren't like me.

So I just encourage you next time you are in the store and you see the mom with the feisty toddler instead of judging them offer a hand

Maybe simmer down on comparing and start encouraging

Give advice when asked

And ask for advice when you see good parenting

And give others a little grace, including yourself

(ps. i do realize that this whole post is unsolicited advice, so you don't have to hear a word if you don't want to)


  1. thank you, Jenni, for your words of wisdom and words of encouragement. it's funny how the people that you think are the perfect parent and have it all together, end up being the ones that look up to you! parenting is such a humbling, learning experience. somedays I think I am just not cut out for this job...but I wouldn't trade it for anything. love you, friend!

  2. I don't really have a lot of friends who are parents...but I sit around and reading parenting magazines and wonder about my parenting...hahaha I think the reason we compare is because we really want to do the best for our kiddies

    1. Eliz, so true, we all just want the best for our kids!

  3. Something I've realized about parenting - we're all just kind of flying by the seat of our pants. :-) Even if we look like we have it all together, under the surface we're bracing for something unexpected and anticipating the moment we're going to need to improvise. I know for me, when I look all calm and collected as my kids are having a freak-out in public, I'm really just faking it. And it's not even for the benefit of others - it's for the benefit of my kids. They're already losing it, they don't need Mommy to lose it too. Once I'm alone I'll scream into a pillow or have a good cry or just sit and stare off into space for a while to clear my head. I know I'm not perfect and it's keeping me humble. We're all just doing what works. :-) It's easy to look like you have it all together on a blog or in a magazine. But everyone has a real life behind closed doors. Everyone. No exceptions.


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