I am sure you’ve never been out in public with young children and been embarrassed by their behavior. Never, not you. Not your kids. But just…
Comparing yourself to other families usually isn’t beneficial. We all have different strengths and weaknesses — and realistically we only know so much about how life plays out for each family. In other words, what we see isn’t always the whole story. So comparisons might not be fair or even accurate.
Nevertheless, I have found that it’s incredibly helpful to have some friends that you do compare your family up against. Not with a competitive edge, or a critical spirit, but rather, with a teachable heart. What you want to find is parents who are doing at least some aspect of parenting better than you. Because when you do, it has a way of making you want to be a better parent.
And who doesn’t want to be a better parent?! We all want to be growing so we can best train our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) — and who better to learn from, than parents who are in the trenches with you, and are doing it well!
Comparative Parenting in Action
Picture this: You know you want to teach your children to show respect and gratitude. So you work on it with your kids, you remind them, and you start to see progress. Praise God!
But then, as time goes on, you let your guard down, and you become content that your kids seem to be as respectful and grateful as any other kids their age (maybe even more so). That is, until you spend time with that family — the family who’s kids surpass what you thought was possible for kids to do.
And for a moment you may be discouraged, especially that you’re not as far along in parenting as you thought you were. But the benefit comes when that discouragement turns into the nudge you need. It makes you want to raise the bar and expect more out of your kids (and expect more out of yourself!). Not because you are competing, but because you realize there’s room to grow and you can serve your kids better by training them up more intentionally. Basically a comparison that could have been initially discouraging, becomes encouraging.
What Can We Learn From Each Other?
Realistically we can all be better parents, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a family that raises the bar in a particular area. it might not even be that our bar is too low or that we aren’t striving towards the same things as other families, it’s simply that we didn’t think to train our kids in specific ways.
For example, you may be teachings your kids to serve others, and then you go to someone’s house and see how their kids have learned to show hospitality, and boom! You can’t wait to teach your kids some new skills!
Or you may be teaching your kids to be selfless, but then you see how another family focuses on others, and all of a sudden you have new ideas to implement!
Or while you’re training your kids to work hard, another family’s routine massively challenges your version of chores.
You get the idea. You don’t have to be failing as a parent to learn from another family, you just have to want to do better!
And what’s interesting to think about is: As you are learning from others and improving your skills, there’s likely another family watching you, learning from all the things you do well. This is the beauty of the Christian community. We can all learn from each other and keep pushing each other in the right direction.
These types of “comparisons” are healthy and good — because in them, we learn what’s possible. We learn how to do better. We might start seeing some areas we’ve been neglecting. We’ll maybe see some ways we’ve become stagnant, or fallen into parenting ruts.
But mostly, we’ll gain lots of encouragement and fresh new ideas to be the best parents we can be so we can put our all into “training our children the way they should go”! (Proverbs 22:6)
So let’s find some friends that are awesome parents, and let’s get our learning hats on!