Comparing My Kids Is a Slippery Slope

sibling rivalryIf there's one thing the 1980s taught us, it was you should never compare siblings. To do so was to create a seriously depressed (see: Ordinary People, Sixteen Candles) or seriously rebellious (see: The Outsiders, Dirty Dancing) kid. So naturally my husband and I just knew we would NEVER compare our two kids to each other. We don't want the little one hooking up with some street kid at summer camp, or hiding out from the cops in a shack. We just don't.

This is why I was as surprised as anyone the first 15 times I said, "His sister wasn't like that." Yikes!

So I decided to go do some Internet searching and figure out how much damage I was doing, and what kind of results we can expect when our kids hit the teen years.


It turns out, as long as we keep the comparisons to ourselves, we should be fine. All of the examples that are guaranteed kid destroyers go something like this, "Why can't you be as pretty as your sister?" Yeah, that's harsh, right? Luckily we talk about our kids behind their backs, and neither one knows which one we think is smarter. And they never will.

So far our conversations are about what things our toddler is doing now, that his sister was or was not doing at the same age. While I find it fascinating, I also feel incredibly guilty about it as well. Even though it's obvious to me that each child will have specific areas of their own expertise, saying it out loud still feels bad. And, truthfully, it's only a matter of time before the conversations between my husband and me are overheard by little ears.

We may not be saying, "Wow, that kid's vocabulary puts his sister's to shame! Why couldn't she have been like that at 2 1/2?" We would never say, "Why can't you be like your brother or sister?" Never. But whatever my kids might overhear could sting. So we need to watch it, as kids are sensitive and can misconstrue comments, and then we're on the road to sibling rivalry followed by motorcycle gangs, right?

So from now on we're going to keep the conversation G-rated when the little ones are around. We can always talk smack about the kids on date night.

Do you compare your kids?


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