It is natural for human beings to compare. Be it things or people, comparison is a common trait in every parlance. But, how much is too much? Let us find out!
As human beings, we tend to feel better when our accomplishments put us in a superior category ‘in comparison to’ others. Be it caste, class, rank, order, job position or political position, we strive to surpass our peers in every area-even in case of our children’s performance, or if seen from the younger generation’s perspective, of how well the parents are doing. Comparisons, while for some, can generate a sense of pride, value and worthiness, in others it could sow all feelings low and depressing. It is like a ‘compare and compete game’, wherein the subjects of comparison are under tremendous pressure to fulfill certain expectations. So if you too are a victim of this habit, stop, give it up and choose a different discourse.
Getting in control of such natural instincts of comparison can be tough, but as human beings we must know the limits.
The Nuisance Caused by ‘Naming’
Comparison causes its worst effects when naming gets involved. So, if Ankita is doing better in sports, Gaurav is getting better marks or Mr. Sharma speaks more politely, once the name is involved, the degree of insult and humiliation is at the top notch. Hence, do not ever take names. As parents, make the children understand, talk to them about your expectations and how they can do better. As children, let the parents know what worries you and what they can do to make you happier. Keep the comparison to yourself. No names allowed!
Comparison among Children
No Need to ‘Keep up with the Joneses’
‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is an idiom referring to the comparison to one’s neighbour as a benchmark for social class. Comparing one’s own children with other’s children is nothing new. Often what parents perceive will serve as a motivation, instead serves as a trigger for a lot of harm, like:-
1. Anger and Resentment – Constant comparison makes the child angrier, both with himself/ herself and the parents.
2. Low Self-Esteem – Feeling that one’s child is less capable than somebody else’s only makes child less confident. He/She starts doubting his/her own abilities.
3. Hopelessness and Solitude– A time comes when the child prefers to give up. He/she becomes immune to the scolding and limits his/her world to the confines of solitude.
Comparison among Parents
Count Your Blessings
Usually, parents are blamed for the annoying judging. But, children too are not far behind. Once they start growing up and start acquainting themselves with the social circles, complexes–inferior or superior-start taking place in their minds. And the result is in no way pleasant. Have a look:-
1. Not Enough – Children belonging to families of relatively low income strata often feel ashamed of having less. They disrespect their parents and blame them for not providing enough.
2. Humiliation – There is no greater reason of sadness for parents than becoming a subject of hate for their children.
3. ‘The Fortunate Other’ – Building pleasant perceptions of others and putting oneself in the ‘unlucky’ group can lead to perpetual disappointment.
Things to Remember
Be it parents or children, there are a few things all should remember before making others a determinant of one’s own happiness.
1. Different Family Set-ups The reason why someone else’s child or parent looks to be doing better could be rooted in their background and family history.
2. Different Levels of Growth Kids develop at different levels. There are early developers, slow bloomers and steady-as-you-go kids in every group. Embrace those differences with positivity and do not keep absurdly high or low expectations from the other party.
3. Focus on the Positives Change the viewing angle a bit, and one’s child or one’s parent could seem the best.
4. Help Each Other Improve– Parents should focus on being a good support system for children and children should make parents understand their situation, mind set and interests.
The Necessary Degree of Comparison for Growth
Compare and compete game is not that bad either, really! A necessary degree of comparison motivates human beings to improve and prove. Just be careful of the things listed earlier! While one should be satisfied and happy with what one has, a little push to get into the world’s game and serve as a competent contender works favourably. Children can stretch out further and explore their hidden abilities, and parents can become encouraged to strive for a better life for their children in order to get more of their love and affection.
So forget about who is better than whom, and start working on yourself and your dear ones. You can compare with others but the real competition is with yourself!