Jul 25, 2023

The folly of Comparisons

 I remember this incident vividly. I think I was around 13-14 years old. My dad casually remarked, "Look at your cousin. She already has learned to cook and contributes to household work. When will you start learning this stuff? You are always playing outside".

Though his intention wasn't to hurt me, that comment did hurt deeply.

From childhood, I don't like to be compared with anyone. Since I was doing well in my studies, the comparison was always on other aspects - dressing up, cooking, contributing to household chores, etc.

Since I knew the hurtful capacity of comparisons, I have been very careful not to compare D with anyone - either in my words or in my thoughts.

In our parents' generation, comparisons were limited to our classmates, neighbors, cousins, or siblings. But in today's social media age, we are comparing our children to kids of parenting influencers and random strangers.

Even if we don't verbalize it in front of our kids, we make comparisons in our thoughts.

Have you had thoughts like these?

"I saw pics of a child eating salads happily. But my child hates salads. Why can't my child be like that?"

"This child seems so mature and disciplined. Why is my boy so lazy?"

"She is narrating shlokas and chants so beautifully. Why aren't my kids showing any interest?"

Children emulate their parents. So if we want our kids to pick up certain skills or habits, we pursue them first. We are their role models. So let's focus on understanding our values, habits, patterns, and behaviors and modifying them as needed.

Every child is unique. Let us allow them to pick up skills and interests of their choice at their own pace and time. There is no deadline/milestone to catch up. Some might learn cycling at the age of 5, while some might learn when they turn 17 (ahem! That's me🙂 ).

What is most needed in today's times -

Accept our children as they are

Trust that they will pursue their intended journey with our support

Believe that things will work out well for them, irrespective of where they are - be it their habits, studies, or skills

Character building is the key, which starts with working on ourselves first and going the extra mile ("menakkedal") in fulfilling their nutritional requirements, spending quality time, giving full attention, listening to them, and having conversations.

Comparisons demoralize and lower the self-esteem of kids. Comparisons aren't inspiring or motivating in any way.

Do make sure to assess the inputs going into your minds through various channels. Take conscious steps to avoid comparisons or eliminate those sources of inputs that can lead to comparisons. I don't follow any parenting influencers on social media as their content seems so polished and refined, and doesn't portray reality.

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