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Citizen Voices

Here’s Why You Should Never Compare Your Child To Others

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“You are not as good as your elder brother”, “You are the most dumb amongst your siblings “; “Hameed is my favourite child”; “Your brother earns more than you”; “Your sister is a lot more confident than you despite being a girl” If you have never heard these phrases in your life then perhaps you live with monks.

This is what we normally call ‘comparison’. Comparing an iPhone with the Samsung Galaxy is a lot different than comparing two siblings.

Comparison never leaves us, unconsciously we are in the comparing mode throughout our day. All the important decisions of our lives come into being after they have been deliberated upon by our ‘comparing mode’. Our society in particular is a lot more into comparisons than the Western ones.

And we do that in such a way that comparison continues to become an intrinsic part of our lives. I remember how I used to be compared with my cousins not only by my parents but also theirs and so were my cousins. Different times had different winners and losers.

Comparison destroys relationships in a way that it cannot even be seen. When a father tells his children that A is better than B, he ends up destroying the mental growth and maturity in both; he gives B an enemy to compete with and at the same time also gives A a certification of being better than his brother. The comparison may relatively be true but always inaccurate due to the limited comprehension of a human mind. In the absolute sense, B may be a lot better than A, it might just be that the father cannot see it. But I ask, why compare at all? Why not let B be B and A be A.

Since parents tend to do this unconsciously as their parents had done the same to them they do not seem to realise that have created a competition in their own home and not a healthy one. This is followed by a series of rewards and punishments. The ones surpassing or maintaining the expectations of parents are rewarded in forms of gifts and/or enthusiastic approvals, every now and then. Whereas, in an attempt to provoke the other child into the ‘so called’ right direction parents either punish or withdraw a privilege. This behaviour generates unpredictability long-term psychological difficulties in children.

Why should we not compare children? We should not compare because every child is special in his or her own way. It is rather our inability to see that hidden goodness that exists within all of us. We take pride over western societies when it comes to our family values and traditions in that we have held onto them and they have not. I tend to disagree with this assumption. In fact, we have developed some other miscellaneous conceptions about life which we do not usually talk about, such as the talk at hand, comparison.

Putting exceptions aside, is it a coincidence that usually the top position holders in the school remain as such throughout their academic periods? Likewise, the ones who remain at the bottom remain there. Why? Because all of them were compared since the very beginning. The one at the bottom was told that all his classmates are ‘better’ than him and vice versa. We do not realise the impact such education and upbringing does to the society; it only but creates mediocre. The ones who are constantly compared and then reminded of their shortcomings in relation to others finally get to a point when they think to themselves that they might as well be bad if they cannot be good. It is until after we come into practical lives that some lucky ones see beyond the embedded comparisons since their childhood and discover the hidden goodness within them.

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Rich parents do a comparison of their own. They do not pay much attention to their kids and by attention I do not mean time. Many parents manage to bring up their children quite well even if they have not been able to give enough time to them. The attention I am referring to is that they do not attend to their children, they are not curious about them and if their children underperform in school they also come down to comparison. They compare their children to the less privileged ones who despite living in poverty perform good results in school while completely ignoring the actual reasons due to which their child may not be performing. They remind them of the money being spent on their education, in school as well as home tuition, and the facilities they enjoy.

Some parents even start comparing themselves to their children and tell them tales of their glory and how they overcame hardships. They do it so impliedly or expressly by conveying that they are a lot better than their children who are unable to make it in the modern world.

Not too long ago, news erupted in the media about four female siblings, all of whom were civil servant officers. It is a huge achievement indeed not only for them but also for their parents as passing the CSS exams is one hell of an exercise. Having said that, at moments like these, other parents complain to their children as in ‘if they can why can’t you’? In response, some would bow down their faces with guilt that they are not as intelligent or hardworking as these four siblings. Others argue with their parents with some clever arguments only to be shut up. “I have my own skills”, they respond in sheer desperation. Parents in their wish for their children to stand out amongst others even forget to realise that not everyone can become a CSS officer, not everyone can get the first position, and vice versa.

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Parents also forget that they send their children to school to learn, not on a quest to surpass other human beings.

Children unconsciously look to their parents for approval which is only granted to those who in the comparison chart get the highest ratings. Parents’ approval means a lot to their children especially to the sensitive ones. Henry David Thoreau, a famous American philosopher and essayist very rightly said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” One such man who could not keep pace with his companions made history.

We all have something to learn from Nancy Thomas, mother of the inventor of electricity, Mr. Thomas Edison. Edison was the seventh and the last son of his parents and belonged to a poor family. According to a U.S. Library of Congress biography of Edison, he was labelled “addled” (dumb) by a school administrator. His furious mother took him out of the school and proceeded to teach him at home. He was taught reading, writing, and arithmetic by his mother. He was always a very curious child and it was his mother’s sincere efforts that made him a genius or brought out the genius inside him. Edison said many years later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

His mother did not compare him to his siblings but gave him his due share of love, perhaps, above and beyond. And love has miracles of its own.

We all will die one day. We might as well live a life worth living. Comparison prevents the newness of life. It is time that we see the beauty in every human and begin to see things differently as put in beautiful words by famous American entrepreneur Jim Rohn, “If you change the way you ‘look at’ things, the things you ‘look at’ change”.

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Naya Daur