When Your Family Starts the Comparison Game

IMG_1522If you come from a family like mine, there are lots of little ones around. My family has had new babies in 2009, 2012, 2013, and two new additions in 2014. So, my kids are in good company when we are home visiting. But, what do you do when your family starts comparing your kids to their cousins?

While I was growing up, I didn’t have other siblings in my home. My four cousins were like my siblings. We rode to and from school together. We had sleepovers. We sat through each other’s ballet recitals, band concerts, and musical productions. It was expected. But, occasionally, we did get compared. One of my grandmas, who is now 102, used to favor my boy cousin over us all. I can remember her teasing my younger girl cousin like it was nothing. Now, I do love this lady dearly, but often times I recall those memories and wonder why she did that.

I want to protect my kids. I want to protect them from the world, their peers, and all of the evils out there. But, should I feel like I have to protect them from other members of our family? I can’t shield their feelings and emotions, but I can be a voice for them. I can remind my family that they are not something to be compared.

If your family starts to compare, remember to speak in love. Family can’t be replaced. Words can last. I know in these times, we can become defensive. Milestones have been compared, innocent enough, maybe. But, I have heard comparisons of who crawled first, who talks more, and even who has cuter clothes. The list can go on and on.

Here are some great responses when your family starts comparing your kids to other family members:

  • Lead by example. Engage in conversations about your brother or sister’s child without mentioning anything about your own children.
  • Emphasize the differences. When your babies are being compared, shift the focus on the ways they are different and celebrate that instead.
  • Make a joke of it. Claim your baby just mastered long division or learned recite Shakespeare and hope they get the hint.
  • Smile and say, “Well every baby/child is different!” Then change the subject!
  • Talk to the family member frankly–but gently—later when other family is not around. Tell them that you love hearing about your brother/sister’s child, but it hurts you when they compare your children to other family members. Maybe they are just trying to make conversation and relate and don’t realize it hurts, so give them a chance to see it from your side and do the same for them.

Your children are yours. They are the only them in the world. My little silly boy and crazy, funny girl are unique and their own. No matter how different they may be, they are my little loves. My son has had a cranial helmet. My daughter has faced difficulties with her speech. These just make them special. It doesn’t make them someone who needs compared to other children. It doesn’t make them someone to not value or not love.

Family is truly forever. No comparisons are needed. My kids may not be perfect, but they are perfect for me.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She loves going home to visit her cousins and hopes her children will be close with their cousins someday, too.

Tags: comparison, cousins, family, parenting, siblings

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