One of the most common topic mothers talk about when together is what other mothers do or don’t do. Now I would love to tell you that this topic of conversation stems from genuine concern, just as prayer requests never become the subject of gossip, but that’s not always true, and you know it. Surely, none of you have ever uttered the words, “When I have kids I will always __________” or “I will never ___________” — me either — NOT!
Why is it so easy for us to compare ourselves to others? Why do we constantly seek approval from our family and friends? Ladies, I long ago gave up seeking to win my in-laws’ approval, figuring that pigs really will fly first — AMEN?! Just joking, well kind of, but seriously, we drive ourselves into such a tizzy worrying about what those around us think. It usually begins in adolescence, but when we start our careers, marriages, and families, the nasty “comparison game” hits full force.
Women naturally seek the approval of others. We want to be liked and want people to think we do a good job at everything. Motherhood is no different. Although my girls can frustrate me to no end, I see red when my mother simply suggests that I try something “different” with them. For some reason, my own family’s commentary hits me harder than any other in my life. Since I “gave up” a successful career to stay at home, I tend to take any advice or heck, a mere observation, the worst way possible. I am not a sensitive person by nature, but mention that my daughter could run a brush through her hair, and you’re toast, even if I can see the tangles from a mile away. I’m just saying . . .
Why is this? Why do we take comments so personally regarding how we operate within our families, and why do we care so much about what other people think about how we rear our children? Shamefully, I admit that after being with friends and family, my husband and I have spent quite a bit of time afterwards discussing their discipline styles, lifestyle choices, and even what clothes they put on their kids. In truth, we weren’t just pointing out observations, we were criticizing what we observed, as well. My heart so hardened towards a particular person close to us that after being with her and her family, I’d spend the next day mentally ripping her apart for anything and everything. Sad. However, one day, while on my spin bike, my mind pedaling as fast as my feet, I could not erase this person from my mind. Then suddenly, the Holy Spirit convicted me by telling me, “The problem is not with her; it is with you, Laura.” What? Some of the sweat must have puddled in my ear — the problem is with me?
Yes, the problem was with me. See, I felt insecure about my own abilities as a mother, like I was just throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping it would stick and daring anyone, especially a family member, to say anything. Was she the target of my criticism because I truly felt superior to her as a wife and mother or because I was actually jealous of her? Perhaps both, but let me tell ya somethin, nothing will ruin a day like playing “comparison games,” for we are bound to lose every time, and Satan knows it. Satan loves it when we feel defeated and cheated because “She has this,” or “I still lack that.” I fixated on her and what she was doing to HER family to the detriment of my family. “One upping” her consumed me at the expense of my relationship with my husband (because of my constant complaining), not to mention years of what could have been a good friendship with her, had I been more mature.
God gave YOU your family. Nothing was by chance. Your husband and your children were specifically designed to fit God’s plan for your life. That goes for parents and siblings, too. How others manage their families does not dictate how we must manage our own. Stop looking at that other mother through green eyes or with disapproval and talk to her. I guarantee she carries her own share of anxiety and frustration.
Remember, the first duty of Believers is to glorify God, not ourselves or even our beloved family. We are called to live differently, unto the Lord, not for the praise or approval of man. In fact, if a non believer criticizes how we rear our children, we actually may be doing right in the eyes of the Lord. So surround yourself with other strong Christian mommas, and give people in your life a little grace, even some mercy. Goodness knows, I surely need it.
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:4-5
Real Life Hacks:
- Be careful about spending too much time on social media. Remember people tend to post the good not necessarily mundane, ordinary in their lives.
- Do not always assume that a suggestion is an attack on your parenting skills, sometimes mothers, mother in laws, etc are speaking from experience.
- If you find the green eyed monster coming out, make a list of all the good things you like about that person and your life, writing it out you will see your lists will often overlap.
- Decide on a verse and a mission statement for your family. Any time you feel under attack recite that verse.