“Why do parents have a habit of comparing their children with others?”
On one fine evening; I had accompanied my daughter to her friend’s birthday party. Her friend’s mother had invited parents along with kids to the party. The party was well organized, themed decorations and all the arrangements were done grandly. All the children and their parents were having a nice time enjoying music, dance and playing games. It was the cake cutting time. Big huge Barbie cake was bought and the celebration started. Kids were having their best time of enjoyment. The cake was cut; gifts were given to birthday girl and now it was time for dinner. So I along with my daughter and her friends and their parents went to have our dinner.
There next to us was a small family having their dinner. I could hear daughter telling her parents; “mom and dad you know my birthday is falling next month and I want my birthday to be celebrated more grandly than this birthday. I will call all my friends and their parents too. I want it to be celebrated in big hotel”. Immediately the mother said since she doesn’t study well, or never had won in any kind of competitions nor in sports like her friends; so they are not going to celebrate her birthday like this. Her father added to it saying; if she scores well in all her exams throughout the year and starts winning prizes in her school’s extra activities then they might plan for next year. I saw the small child became upset and sad; she didn’t even enjoy her dinner then.
On entire my way to home; I was thinking about that girl; how upset she had become. Might be she was not expecting this kind of answer or she was so used to of being compared by her parents. I always wonder why children are most the victim of comparisons. Why a child cannot be made to understand without being compared? Things like related to studies, behaviour, achievements, making a wish or asking for something from parents.
They always get replies in the form of comparisons. Right from the time, a child is born; he is compared with other born child for his colour, weight, height, crying and whatnot. The comparisons don’t stop here; it only grows more and more along with the child. Comparisons are made for the development of child to uttering the first word; to taking the first step of his life; to start eating; to growing; etc. The list is endless. It continues even after the child enters school until he grows old. Thank god! Oldies are not often compared in this world.
The child who is constantly being compared feels humiliated, sad and very low in self-esteem and for this, he is not to be blamed. From the time he understood a thing he had only seen being compared to others. He felt not being valued for anything. Slowly he himself will start seeing that he is not worth anything; he knows nothing. The child’s self-confidence is shattered every time he is been compared.
All this can lead to very serious emotional and mental trauma in a child. He might go into depression and serious effect can even lead to taking the step of suicide. One can think it’s just a simple issue, but no; it’s not. For one who is constantly compared and nagged being compared again and again is just breaking them inner. The child grows as a stubborn and angry adult because he represses his feelings and emotions and even stops talking just in the fear of being compared.
I would like to ask one question to the parents and others who compare children. What if your child compares you with other parents? We are not going to like it, we may feel disrespected. What are we doing to these children aren’t we disrespecting them? Why do we choose comparison as a medium to make them understand something? Why don’t we use a trust instead? Children for whom only parents are their world initially; they come to them with hope and love of being heard but they are mocked and compared. This is so heartbreaking for the child.
I humbly request parents out there not to compare their children; they are human not objects to be compared to find the best. Let us stop comparing and start loving our children.
Regards Sejal Davey Special educator, child and career counsellor and parenting coach.