In Her Own Shoes

When I was a child, my mom and grandmother spent a lot of time comparing me to my brother. Don’t get me wrong, my mom and grandmother were awesome. My childhood was filled with love, encouragement, good food, and support. However, I think the constant comparing did some damage. I know in my heart that this was not their intent, but it still happened.

Fast forward a few decades, and I find myself with a boy and a girl, just like my mom had. I am very conscious about what I say to them and how it might make them feel. I realize that my words and actions need to be in alignment with my intentions, because my intentions are not raising them—my actions are.

Comparing siblings to each other is something many parents do without much thought. After all, it’s pretty easy to fall into the habit of trying to convince your kids to do (or not do) something because of what their sibling is doing. But my own experience has shown me that, as innocent as the comparing may be, it doesn’t always make kids feel all that great about themselves. I have learned that kids need the room to just be who they are, without concern that mom or dad thinks their sibling is the better kid. The most magical thing about childhood is being able to freely be who you want to be. To be honest, that’s the most magical thing about being an adult, too.

I watch my son and daughter play, and I realize how distinct their personalities are. Sure, they have a lot in common, but they also do so many things so differently. I think they will become the best of friends, but I know that they will also have conflicts to manage because they may see the world differently at times. Their perspectives won’t always be the same.

My hope as a mom is that I am able to raise them in a way that makes them feel secure in who they are, knowing that their differences make them wonderfully unique. I don’t want them to feel like anything is more special about they other, because they will each have their own talents and their own passions.

I don’t think parents who compare a lot mean any harm. I’m certain that my mom didn’t. My brother was a quiet, studious kid. I, on the other hand, was the social butterfly who wanted to talk to her friends on the phone all day. Most of the comparison was probably out of concern for my future. I get it.

But whether I mean harm or not, I think I owe it to my kids to give them my very best. For me, that means giving them the chance to completely be who they were meant to be, while learning to love the other for exactly who they are. For that, no comparison is ever needed.

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