Thief of Joy

I saw this quote on Pinterest and loved it!

I know this to be true.

We see comparison all the time amongst women and mothers.

But today I don’t want to talk about comparing ourselves to other women, I want to talk about comparing our children.

And how comparing our children to each other and to other children can rob us and them of joy.

First of all, I know what it is like to be compared. When you have a sister a year and a half older than you and a sister a year and a half younger than you, comparison is inevitable. I knew my whole life that my younger sister was prettier than me.  Everyone told me so.  But they told me I was smarter so that was some how supposed to make it okay that they just compared us.  Neither one of us benefited from those comparisons.

As much as I vowed, I would never compare my own kids (because I know it is painful), sometimes I still do.  This one is nicer, this one is smarter, this one is more like me, this one is more athletic, …

It is not that we can’t notice differences in our children.  To see them all the same would actually be irresponsible parenting.  Each child is unique and has his/her own talents, skill sets and weaknesses- and we must parent accordingly. But comparison comes in when we note the differences and then attach a judgment or a value or a label to the difference.

And I feel the worst when I compare my children to other people’s children.

I don’t do it often (because I think my kids are pretty great), but every once in awhile I will find comparison creeping in to my mind.  My kid can’t do that as well as Kid A.  I wish my daughter was like Kid B.  My son is smarter than Kid C, etc.  But I find myself comparing  Locke to other kids the most.

He is severely speech delayed.  He is 32 months old and his vocabulary is about 7 words and lots of grunts.

Sometimes when I am babysitting my friends’ kids and the little one year olds come up to me and say “Cracker” or “I want some milk” or “I watch Tangled” I feel sad or robbed or jealous.  How much easier would parenting be if my child could just tell me want he wanted?  Instead I endure tantrums and screams and grunts- all because the kid wanted a napkin, but couldn’t find the word.

But when I look at little Locke for just what he is and I don’t compare him to anyone but himself, he is enough. I feel joy with his snuggles, his dance moves, his eyelashes, his amazing brain, his cheesy smile and with each new sound or word he creates.  I could get hung up on the fact that he has 93 words less than other kids his age or I could find love and joy with all that he does have.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy.


7 thoughts on “Thief of Joy”

  1. I am so obsessed with this little boy and mostly because he doesn’t say “I love you,” he shows you how much he loves you.
    He restores Joy without ANY words!

  2. I love this! I have a 16 year old son who has special needs and who brings so much joy into our home. He can’t tell me he loves me, but he is the expert at giving love. When I waste time thinking about the “if only” or thinking about how I pictured my family would be, then the joy does disappear. Instead, I try to stay focused on how blessed I am and how much better Heavenly Father’s plan is for me than my plan would have been. Sometimes our trials can bring us some of the greatest joy if we choose to allow it into our hearts.

    1. I Love your 16 year old for the fact that he makes me feel loved by just looking at him or his smile like goes from ear to ear. And I love you for teaching me to be by example of unconditional love.

  3. This is something I struggle with as well having been compared a lot while growing up. With 7 daughters there is obviously going to be comparing going on, but I find it comes from outside sources more than anything. I want so much for my kids to feel happy with who they are and what they have and not to look around at anyone else. My 2 oldest daughters have the same issue you had growing up….one has always been told she’s prettier than the other (often right in front of the other sister who is also beautiful), but the other sister is smarter. I just wonder why people think that would be ok. How hurtful to be the other sister (a girl who is so smart, talented and gorgeous it’s just unbelievable) who is from other’s (stupid) mouths “not as pretty”. Really really really bothers me.

  4. This post made me cry. I’ve been thinkin a lot about this lately. I was compared to my sister- she was prettier but I was smarter. I worry about that for my girls. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the comment from people while looking at Kate, “She is so cute. Well, all your kids are cute, but she is SO cute.” I worry what that will do to Lily’s self-esteem. I worry and compare Jace and Cole and their athleticism and smarts and worry if it will drive them apart one day or if they can embrace their differences and compliment each other. Why do we have to compare? Why not just embrace the differences and find joy in all things. Thanks for this post Tiff. You’re doing great things.

  5. I love your post. As a mother with a child who has suffered from speech delay, I know the pain of comparison. I am thankful everyday for new words he finds and uses. He is now 6 and attends speech everyday at his school. His speech expands and improves everyday and I know the Lord has special plans for him.

  6. Ok, I found your blog today thru pinterest — and I’ve been no where else. It is amazing. I stopped where you mentioned that your boy was severely speech delayed. Reminds me of my boy (now 13). Didn’t say a word until his 3rd birthday. Then he slowly started speaking. It seemed to bother other adults more than it did me, even though his older brother spoke in full sentences by age 2. The thought I held in my head, and sometimes let slip out the lips was, “I know very few adults that don’t speak more than more people want to hear.” I think my little one was delayed because he was taking in EVERYTHING. He is my little brainiac (and I didn’t have much DNA to donate). He still notices more things than most. I’m sure you’ve figured it out (guess I’ll read the rest of the post) but quiet might be a little frustrating, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

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