We compare our kids, and therefore our parenting, all the time. You know you do it. We all do.

First, think about the things we compare regularly. We compare fruit, clothing, cars, and deals. All of these things are comparable because we are looking for the better object of the two to purchase. This apple is not bruised, that dress looks better, this car gets better gas mileage, and that deal is better financially than this one.

Second, we assume certain rules into the equation. Rules like 1) one of them has to better than the other, 2) there is a greater return for a better product, and 3) our satisfaction will be higher with the better product.

Does this approach work when applied to our children? No. Then why do we compare our children and our parenting? Pride. Think about it; do you compare for the good of your child? What good comes from treating your child like a show dog? Or worse still, the losing show dog?

On the other hand, there are plenty of ill effects that come from comparing our children against each other. Here are three things that comparing breeds.

Negativity – “There must be something better.” It is a lack of accepting what you already have and seeking perfection. Acceptance allows you to see more clearly what you have to work with and what you need to do. Negativity blinds you to possible solutions.

Dissatisfaction – The grass is not always greener with the other kid, or in the other house. (Well, it might be of they water and fertilize more than you do.) If you’re always looking for something better, what message does that send to your child? (Hint: they aren’t good enough)

Pressure – The pressure to perform, to achieve more, is all a set up for failure. The pressure lands on you and on your child. Once enough pressure is generated, the house of cards comes tumbling down.

While it is tempting to consider that other children or parents may have it better, that is the very trap in the whole thing. That child does not have the same personality as your child. Those parents don’t have the same history as you do. Your expectations are not the same as theirs. And their judgment and metrics for success are not the same as yours.

Is it wrong to search for ways to be a better parent? No. Is it detrimental to look for tips and tricks in how other parents parent their children? No. But these things must be applied with your child in mind, not the other one. Your child’s personality, emotions, reactions and history are different from every other child. Your history, emotions, personality, and reactions are also different. What works for one may not work for another.


Todd has been a therapist for over 20 years in a variety of settings. An unconventional therapist who tells the truth, Todd has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, and authored his first book, Simply Relate.

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