Recently in a meeting, I happened to glance at the notes that were being taken by a lady in front of me. Several of the notes she had written down were goals to be a better mother to her children. I suddenly became squeamish in my seat. It wasn’t the goals themselves that caused my discomfort, or even the fact that I was peeking into somebody’s private thoughts. My personal discomfort stemmed from my own weakness. You see, I ashamedly admit, she is a mother I have privately criticized in the past.
For days after peeking at that mother’s paper, I felt guilty. Guilty for seeing her thoughts, and guilty for being so quick to frequently judge her. I forced myself to think of some of her mothering strengths. And guess what!? She has several. She even has some mothering strengths that I have yet to cultivate. Really, from the words of a hymn, “Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly?”
Too frequently, as parents, we compare ourselves to others and feel less than we are. We feel that we will never be as good as Jenny down the street, or never master a particular quality that John across the road has perfectly mastered. Do we not as parents also do the opposite? Surely, I am not the only one that has compared myself to another mother and been quick to pat myself on the back for what I perceive to be better parenting practices.
She is trying. I am trying. You are trying. Maybe some days your efforts and my efforts aren’t truly our best. On those days, do we really need or want to judge or be judged? Ultimately, aren’t we as parents much more similar than we are different?
But sometimes, we are each other’s worst critics rather than each other’s greatest cheerleaders and helpers.
What a tragedy.
Let’s do better.
QUESTION: Are you guilty of the Comparison Trap?
CHALLENGE: Help strengthen another parent you realize may be struggling.
photo from http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=377459406163
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