Here I have a lovely guest post from Sally who writes a blog at The Happy Home with 3 boys blog. It really gives us something to think about when it comes to parenting.
We’re all guilty of it…… we all compare how well we match up against others don’t we! Its a human trait that is by and large quite unavoidable if we’re honest.
Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m talking about comparing yourself to other adults especially in this virtual world where we are bombarded on a daily basis of pictures of other peoples perfect lives, homes and children, but I’m not. Well not entirely anyway.
What I’m talking about today is the temptation we all feel as parents to compare our children to other children and indeed even to their own siblings in regards to their stages of development and reaching milestones.
Comparing is defined as: to note or measure the similarities or dissimilarities between something. I think we can safely say that were all guilty of this on some level aren’t we!
Social Media really doesn’t help in this regard does it! everyday, I’m seeing pictures of Perfect Pamela telling me how far advanced her children are for their age, how they’ve astounded medical professionals with their advancements and achievements etc… I could go on, but I think you get the point. What its wise to remember here is that Social Media isn’t reality and certainly does not always show an honest or accurate portrayal of how things really are. You can’t blame people for posting only the positives, its just human nature to want to show yourself in a positive light isn’t it. Its just wise to remember that this isn’t always real life.
Whenever you meet other parents there always seems to be the need to talk about your child’s development. Is he/she sleeping through yet?, is he/she potty trained yet? etc etc. While this is probably just innocent small talk, there’s always that niggling at the back of your mind. Of course you want your child to do well and excel in all aspects of their life. I think that’s quite normal isn’t it. so what if your child isn’t as far advanced as another child, is this a problem? More often that not, I’d say no. We all develop at different rates. So why aren’t we celebrating this uniqueness instead of doubting it as normal?
As adults we don’t seem to pitch ourselves against other adults as we do our children against other children of the same age do we? Whenever you meet another parent of a child the same age as yours though, it seems the absolute normal and socially acceptable thing to do to question each other as to your respective children’s development.
This need to compare is ingrained into us as new parents from the moment our child is born and we are given that little Red Book with the height an weight charts in it. What centile is your baby on? what one is considered the most normal? I remember from a baby group I once attended that there was this one girl who has a big baby and every weigh in, people would comment on how much he weighed. I could tell then that this mum felt mortified and somewhat ashamed by this, like there was something abnormal with her child because he weighed more and was on a different centile line to most of the other babies of the same age in that group and how awful is that!
When you have your first child, you’re desperate for them to meet their given milestones, first smile, first word, first steps, how quick they were to potty train etc and all the time your talking to friends and other parents asking at what stage their child did this, that or the other. Desperate for some sort of reassurance that your child is on schedule as they should be. Basically, we’re all just winging this parenthood lark aren’t we and we’re all wanting that crucial reassurance that we’re doing a good job of it.
I remember when my baby was just seven weeks old and someone with a baby the same aged asked if mine was sleeping through the night yet as their baby was. My baby wasn’t yet sleeping through the night and the fact that this other baby was, actually worried me at the time. Why wasn’t my baby sleeping through, was there something wrong with him? Of course there wasn’t, but this is just where the comparison trap leaves you. Scared and doubtful of your own abilities as a parent.
Then there’s the question of what happens when another child comes into your family and that child is perhaps not as forward in his development as their older sibling was? Well at that point you start to worry and you feel ALL the mum guilt. You question yourself as to why your second child isn’t at the same developmental stage as their older sibling was at the same age. Again compare, compare and compare some more. That horrible worrying, beating yourself up that you’ve in some way failed as a parent.
This worry can become all consuming and its easy to start blaming yourself to think things to yourself like, if you had more time to dedicate to them, that they too would be hitting the milestones just like your first born. But these sort of thoughts are completely unfounded and without warrant. I’ve learnt over time that this is all utter and complete nonsense. Every child is an individual and as such they will totally develop at their own pace.
My first born walked at 10 months and was dry day and night by 2 years and 2 months old. My second son walked at 14 months and is now 3 1/2 and still isn’t completely dry at night. My third son walked at 11 months and is potty training and he’s not even 2 yet. You know what though, there’s nothing wrong with this scenario. There’s nothing wrong with any of my boys. Not at all.
With love and encouragement all children will flourish and bloom. Yes, obviously there are medical guidelines that your Health Visitor or Doctor will advise you about if they have any concerns regarding your child, but in the meantime, just relax and enjoy them, after all they’re only little for such a short time, don’t try and push them forward too soon, don’t wish time away for them or try and make them reach milestones before they are totally ready. If you do, I can guarantee you’ll regret it.