Why do we compare our children?

Rashmi Gupta and Nikhil Gupta @ Nurturing Souls

We all would agree that we compare ourselves or our kids with others in most of the things we do. Whether it is child being compared with his/her siblings or friends, cousins or relatives, comparisons do take place. We also do compare with the role models we have created whether it is through images created by us or images built by society. Many times we also think comparing with oneself is even a better idea. Here are few examples that all of us would have seen -

a. Your dance is not as good as your brother
b. You should learn from your cousin, why you can’t be more like him
c. Your marks this time should be better than last time
d. You should have a role model
e. You have to be one of the best in what you do
f. What is your rank/rating in xyz. We should get a better rating next time.
But have we thought about why we compare and what does this comparison do to us. We do compare because
1. We have been brought up, trained and taught to become better by comparing.
2. Without comparison, we feel lost that there is nothing to aim for / benchmark with and so on and so forth
3. We also compare to compete, which we think, helps us win
Now let us try to understand what it does to us.
a. It makes us boxed in our thinking (confines us within the boundaries of a path decided for someone else or defined by someone else), as we develop every skill or do everything possible only to achieve that goal. There is no fresh perspective and therefore creativity is completely lost. While it may excel us or better our efficiency in the defined terms of so called success by the society, it will still leave us completely deprived of our natural potential. Let us remember pre-defined efficiency is for machines and not human beings.
b. It also puts lot of pressure in case we find that despite all our efforts we are not able to reach the goal or are struggling.
c. When we compare to compete, we divide ourselves with others. Which leads to most of the conflicts in life. Then we talk about love and compassion, which becomes immaterial.
d. Many times despite achieving those benchmarks or goals that we were comparing with, we find that we never enjoyed the process and hence it doesn’t leave us happy and satisfied. In fact it leaves us more exhausted.
e. Even if we are close to achieving or have achieved the goal, we realize since we are deep into the habit of comparing, our goal post has moved and the cycle continues.
Many times, we think that while we may stop comparing but if others don’t, it will continue to impact us and our children. As we cannot change others, idea here is to begin with ourselves. Once we are naturally away from any sort of comparison, our children will also start appreciating the same (as they spend more time with us as parents and not others, especially at the young age). Moreover, they are more innocent and less corruptible (in comparison to us as adults; see how the comparison comes in). As they grow, they will also see through others’ comments on being compared and the futility of it.
The challenge is not about changing others but being fully sure that we ourselves are not believing in it or practicing it consciously or unconsciously. Recently in one of the birthday parties, there were few adults and kids who gave solo dance performance. Everybody enjoyed and had fun but at the end of it somebody made the comment (consciously or unconsciously), “the best performance was from so and so”. The comment created so much of divide, uneasiness, emotional upheaval in many and helped none (as it never helps anyone).
Let us keep introspecting “why do we compare and what does it do to us and our children”.