Yin and Yang

February 12, 2014

When you are a parent of more than one child, it is only natural to make comparisons between them.  Who’s with me?

When my eldest was born I had no idea what I was doing – but who does?  Just like any other new mom, I ended up learning alongside my daughter the joys (and pains) of parenthood. She was a great sleeper, started talking early on, and followed directions just as we asked. Every month when I got my obligatory email from one of the million parenting newsletters that told me what my child “should” be doing at that age, I was always able to check off the list with ease. Two years later when her brother came along, I logically assumed the same would happen with him.  It did not.

But how do we as parents keep ourselves from comparing children? After all, society is constantly comparing. Normal as it is, comparing can be a recipe for stress. It can also prevent us from fully appreciating what our kids are accomplishing. Here are some common comparison traps — and how to sidestep them:

  • As moms, we’re encouraged to watch for any development problems or delays and to get help right away with anything we notice. So it’s no wonder we’re constantly wondering what’s normal and what’s not. Sidestep the trap: Research shows that as long as your child is reaching milestones within the normal range, how quickly he reaches them has no bearing on his later skills.
  • Some babies sleep like a dream, while others fight bedtime with every ounce of vigor in their little bodies. Sidestep the trap: Like milestones, sleep styles vary. What works for one child can bomb for another. Instead of dwelling on all the super sleepers out there, focus on finding a solution so that you can get some sleep.
  • Our children may “belong” to us, but we don’t own their temperaments. Still, it’s hard not to shrink in shame when our kids tear hysterically around the library or refuse to meet new people. Sidestep the trap: For all you know, the calm, beribboned little girl at story time may have had a monster meltdown that very morning.


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