You’re wondering if you’re doing something wrong because your kid can’t ride a bike. You’re wondering why they’re not more athletic…or more academic. You feel like a failure because they dropped out of college or because your divorce has been hard on them. And all of these feelings are more pronounced when you look across the street or across the parking lot at school and see other families nailing it in all these areas.
Of course, what you’re not seeing is that the parents with those bike-riding kids are wondering why their kids can’t swim. The athletic parents are deeply concerned that sports are becoming their kids’ entire identity, they’re concerned that their superstar college kid is profoundly depressed and unhappy…and by the way, their own marriage is hardly the picture of contentment that it appears on the outside.
The point is: the people you are comparing yourself to are struggling too, in their own ways, with their own issues. In fact, they are almost certainly looking at your kids and feeling insecure. Why aren’t my kids as well-behaved, as funny, as confident, as whatever.
It has been said envy is the one sin that is absolutely no fun. It’s self-inflicted torture…based on nothing but a perception that someone else is doing better. But so often they are not. More often than not, if we zoomed out, we’d see things even out.
So stop. Focus on your own family, on your own metrics. Don’t pass this torture onto your kids, forcing them to measure up to how you think other kids are doing. Let them be themselves, let them grow and change and discover at their own pace. Give yourself the same gift.