It starts at birth. Your child arrives and the comparing begins. The nurses and doctors eventually take the baby for necessary checkups and various tests. These ensure the child measures up to all of the health markers medical science offers. Daily check-ups turn to weekly, then monthly, soon yearly. Once you become comfortable with the overall well-being of your child, these visits to the doctor become less about health and more about how your child is measuring up to others. Let’s dive in to the problems that come with comparing our kids.
When your child’s young, the comparisons are what you talk about when family ask you, “How’s the baby?” Followed by the dreaded height and weight scale, and my favorite…head size.
“Well, dad, his height and weight are off the charts, and his head is in the 25th percentile.” The doctor comes in, reads the measurements, but you are still distracted by the score echoing in your head. His lips are moving but your swollen chest is still breathing in “off-the-chart.”
As you nod to the doctor, you are suddenly concerned about the “shrunken head curse” your child has succumbed to this early in life. You didn’t notice the small head before, but compared to others’ it must be! And then, suddenly your beaming pride for body size turns to, “Oh no, is he fat?! What does ‘off-the-chart mean?! Maybe just big-boned? With a small head?!”
Thus it begins. Compare-nting.
As kids age, we find ourselves layering expectations on them. There is nothing wrong with expectations, but being able to temper those expectations often proves difficult. We recognize when others put unrealistic expectations on their sons and daughters, but tough to pull out the plank in our own eye.
In his book Trophy Child, Ted Cunningham articulates well this notion of unrealistic expectations as he lays out the concept of parenting from a trophy-child mentality. Meaning, your kid is your trophy and you have to make sure it’s properly being shown, displayed and polished for others to see. Comparing our kids tends not to be biblical fatherhood. This allows you to control the reputation of the child, and your reputation as that child’s parent.
Areas where we compare-nt:
- Spiritually > As a good, Christian, intentional father, your son must be the one who knows the Bible better, raises his hand first to pray, and helps you be the moral police.
- Academically > Grades, awards and test scores. Is your child measuring up to those who are winning class awards? Or, as older an older kid, is their ACT