Why not to compare children and what I do instead

Stay unique… and make your own mark!

As mothers, we start comparing our little ones, the very minute we conceive them. Understandably so, because as moms, we want to know whether we are on the right track, doing the right thing. And if we experience any sort of deviation from the normal, we start or continue to compare even more. Why? If you are anything like I am, its because I want to ace it… give it my best, be the best (or at least the closest possible to the best). Thankfully so far, I am not comparing my child to any other because I personally don’t like being compared to anyone. I don’t like that feeling and I’m grateful that my mom didn’t do that while raising me. However, coming from a culture where comparison and competition is still common, I did experience it nevertheless. But as a mom, I try my best to refrain from the tendency to compare my child to any other.


Having said that, I don’t live in a bubble. Sure, I am in touch with the world and its expectations. Instead of competing and comparing, I learn from my experiences and from the people around me. Although I don’t feel right about making direct comparisons, I do, however, use benchmarks and milestones. I have learnt to not obsess over them anymore because we are all unique and we need to value that about ourselves. EG: I remember my baby was not showing any interest in rolling over, scooting or crawling like other babies her age did but then she skipped a couple of milestones and started to stand and even walk in no time. That’s when I knew that my child is capable of knowing what she wants and focuses all her energy on achieving that goal. Ignorance is bliss for babies. Now, just because I don’t compare my child doesn’t mean that I believe in “lazy parenting”. (I’m not judging parents here but that term is a legitimate style of parenting now and I respect that). There’s nothing lazy about lazy parenting style but its not my style. I am a borderline helicopter parent who is trying hard to stay with the positives of that style of parenting. I do have great expectations from my child and those I have based on my knowledge and experience as an early childhood educator. And in my 12 years of experience in the field, I have consciously refrained from comparing my young students too. I, however, find ways to turn around those statements of comparisons.

So here’s how I do it and why:

When saying “Why can’t you be more like XYZ?”, we are blatantly telling our child, that he/she is not good enough. Instead, I can turn it around by looking into that specific trait or skill that XYZ exhibits. And if that is something I feel my child can benefit from, I will introduce that trait or skill to her. I would focus on the process of becoming, rather than the outcome and be a part of her learning journey. Play a responsible and equal part in that process rather than isolate her to reach the outcome and find a way to be like XYZ.

Every time we habitually or even casually praise someone else and then immediately follow it up by criticising our own child, we are making a direct comparison. On purpose or not, while doing so, we are not only damaging the bond we share with them but also the relationship they might have with the XYZ. This might lead to some passive aggression that gets projected toward the person criticising and also the person being praised. And this could cause some deep set emotional and social bruises for life where the child as an adult might have trouble appreciating the good in others because somewhere its gotten linked to their own self worth.


I would like my daughter to see the good around her and make her own decision of whether or not to imbibe that as a part of her individuality. When I say, “Did you see how XYZ did that? Would you like to do that?”, she learns that just because someone is good at something, doesn’t mean that she is not. And if she chooses to, she can do it too. That’s when I, as her mom, am all in, for setting her up for success. This is a positive mindset at work and I would like her to internalise this mindset to function and succeed in the competitive jungle out there. Praising someone doesn’t need to have a toxic effect on her personality. In fact, when I praise someone else, I am bringing her to notice the good around, making suggestions, and even sharing my personal preferences about what I like and what I don’t. Now as she’s turning 4 soon, there are times, I even highlight the not-so-good things around and gently guide her to make the right choices. Most of the times, she does get the difference between good and bad choices.


And when she makes her choices, I would like her to make it for herself, because she finds it right. Not because she wants to please me or anyone else. We tend to make comparisons because we want to motivate our children to succeed and be like or better than an XYZ. But somewhere this teaches the child to follow a herd rather than be their own uniquely productive self. Following a herd mentality also teaches a child that we have to be a part of the group, come what may. So, what happens when my daughter encounters a group of people making poor choices together? Does that make it right? That’s why I like to emphasise to her that just because someone is making poor choices, we don’t have to join in, even if it’s a friend we like or a lot of friends we might want to be liked by. We need to use our own beautiful mind to make good choices because we find it right. And its amazing how she’s able to make those choices… again, most of the times.

Children are much more capable than we think they are. We need to give them more credit for that, at least I do. Their minds absorb like sponge…the way we speak to them and speak about them gets internalised in them overtime and we should choose to look at that as a big plus point.

Speaking of capability, my child has her own interests and abilities which I, as her mom, need to encourage and facilitate. I try really hard not to enforce my own interests on her. I also try hard not to make her take up a skill just because everyone is doing it. Again, following the herd mentality can be counter productive. I not only respect her personal interests but also keep the expectations realistic. Let’s face it, trying to achieve something that one isn’t interested in and is not capable of, can only lead to frustration and stress. She rather be frustrated and stressed learning something that she actually wants to be good at. That kind of stress is good because those frustrations and mistakes only make one better.


This brings me to the aspect that’s so very important when my daughter is succeeding or even failing forward : LOVE, unconditional love, at all times. I always make it a point to appreciate her choices, her efforts and her struggles, however big or small. That doesn’t mean I don’t get disappointed when she makes poor choices. And I rightfully express that disappointment to her by saying “I love you a lot and I always will. I am feeling sad right now because I am disappointed in your choices. I know that you can do better than that! How can we make this better?” Right there, was love that’s unconditional, real feelings that are momentary consequences, faith in her abilities which didn’t reflect in her current choice, a confident resolve to fix it as a team. This routine keeps her more grounded and motivated to be her best, than me having to make comparisons. This is about her, and only her. We talk about her choices and their consequences while speaking of her and her only. She learns that she is capable of making better choices, by herself and for herself . This is a personal growth mindset that focuses on her and her alone.

Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And that line has stayed with me for years. Comparison does take away the fun of learning to discover and be the best version of ourselves. If we do have to compare, let’s compare us to ourselves as we challenge ourselves to learn and grow for life!

Pleased with being a “One and done parent”

The Awesome Threesome…

It’s so very unflattering to be questioned or even to have to explain why my family size doesn’t seem to match the “stereotypical” portrait of a “happy family”. Since I have a 3 and a half year old now, this is supposedly the “right” time for me to think about having another baby to “complete” my family. If not saying it, people are definitely thinking it, specially on days when I’m sick with “pregnancy” like symptoms. And when I do say that I’m pleased with being “a one and done” parent, there’s always the implication that this statement just momentarily holds true for me and that I would soon change my mind, for reasons best known to them. The most popular one being, having a sibling for my only child and its trillion advantages. Sure, every decision in life has its pluses and minuses, but to assume that a family unit of 3 isn’t as good as it can get, is something I find pretty patronizing and ill-informed. I’d say, to each, their own. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable to give my opinion to anyone about how many kids they should or should not have. I’m amazed at how people so righteously find it their place to even share a passing remark or even “that sorry look” on this (no)issue. If anyone does get to have an opinion, that place sure belongs to members of my family: my husband, me and my daughter – the people who actually have to do the hard work at making it a truly “happy family”. (On a side note, my daughter recently shared her list of reasons why she doesn’t like babies J It was interesting, no doubt!)

To me, no family size is perfect! A family is still gonna have to go through it’s own unique journey filled with successes, surprises and struggles. Having one child suits us and in words of my little one, we are a “happy family” living in the “best home” ever. (Yeah, she is into using a whole lot of superlatives in her rapidly growing vocabulary these days. BEST THING EVER!) 

So here’s why we are pleased with being “one and done” parents: 

It’s our call: 

If my husband and me, both are onboard with the decision to have one and just one child, nothing else matters. From the beginning, we have been very clear about this being a very huge responsibility. If anything, as years pass by, we just get more and more sure about our decision. In fact, we tend to enjoy and savor every moment with our daughter because we know its gonna be just this one time and the milestone-like moments are gonna pass in a blink. The fact that there is gonna be “no redos”, makes it all even more precious to cherish. 


We feel complete: 

And that it! It feels just right! We don’t seem to be missing out on anything. The 3 of us feel like a great team, our personalities and temperaments complement each other and we keep each other as happy as we can be. Sure, we have our low days as a family, but again, we can deal with those much better with just one child to care for. People often talk about “more the merrier” but there’s a down side there which is often not spoken about. Heard of Double Trouble?


We believe in quality of life:

Once we commit to something, we give it our very best! I personally just don’t like that feeling where I am struggling – be it with the task, with time, with sleep, or anything at all. 

Also I have the Type A personality traits: I like things to be predictable, structured, organized, clean, well planned, well paced and generally as close as possible to being perfect. And I love to be like that, well… at least most of the times. I like to be in control, if not, I get flustered and stressed. Basically, I don’t function well with spontaneity and chaos.

So given my personality, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be able to juggle multiple kids with their multiple needs and schedules. Frankly, I am constantly exhausted with just one. Yes, I am an early childhood educator by profession and I do this kind of multitasking with young children all the time. But thats work and I have been repeated told that I’m pretty good at it! But this is my home and my personal life. Hats off and nothing but respect to those moms who can pull this off in their personal lives, day in – day out. But its just not my cup of tea. And accepting that, makes it much easier for me to make my decisions. This way, I can focus on putting my best foot forward and providing the best for my one and only child. No excuses to goof things up but then again parenting by itself involves a lot of goof ups … regardless…


It’s practical:

Easy and less expensive. I already find myself overspending on all the things that I buy for my only child. Over the years, I am learning to be more sensible in leaning out my purchases and I can only imagine how me, having more than one kid, would have only made the spending worse. Add to that, I am generally not good at making shopping related, efficient decisions. Period.

And that’s just the basics and the everyday luxuries that we can thankfully afford, for now. Let’s not forget how expensive education and co-curricular activities for children can be. I’d rather be in a comfortable state of mind as far as the financial management for one child is concerned, given that I am not good at planning finances myself. Simply put, I wouldn’t be able to manage this kind of stress now or in the near future, be it for one or more. So I’d rather keep it simple.


We don’t want to live it again: 

Although I had a smooth pregnancy thanks to the “textbook” baby I carried for  9 months, I had a traumatic delivery and some intense postpartum anxiety. So no, I didn’t get to enjoy the new mother bliss one bit. To add on, my baby wasn’t an easy baby, if anything she was just as distressed. It was the most toughest thing I have ever had to overcome, and I have been through a year of chemotherapy in my teen years (for real). I remember, as a new mum, I was always tired, sleep deprived, stressed and sad. Looking back, I feel like it was just as depressing for my little baby and so out of both our control. I often ended up questioning my decision and preparedness for this journey that I so-wanted to take on. But I simply couldn’t think straight back then. 


And my obsessive, compulsive personality made it all even more worse. I constantly worried and panicked about anything and everything that led to the chaos of having a newborn at home. “She’s not feeding well”, “If she does, she spits it all out”, “She’s not sleeping well”, “She’s crying way too much”, and on and on and on…. Eventually things did get better and I fell in love with my little girl and there was no looking back since. But the thought of having to do it all again, scares me to my very core! I’m just grateful that the 3 of us powered through those days and are at our strongest best today – physically and emotionally. And I don’t want to make any changes to that. I know the whole trauma we lived through probably wouldn’t happen again if we tried, but the risk is not something I’m willing to take. I don’t find it worth it given that I have another beautiful soul to care for this time around.

We don’t go by stereotypes:  

Since we are both comfortable with this decision, there’s no way anyone can make us change our minds, specially when they have so little to do with the whole experience that they want us to go through. And why? Because of the stereotypical image of a “family”. Thanks but no thanks, we are not building our family empire to “fit into” anything. And NO, my daughter is not going to be lonely, no she’s not going to be spoilt, she will learn to share, care and socialize just fine. There’s no guarantee that children with siblings are better off on these traits anyways. Look up some research out there, its true! To be a happy family, every member of that family needs to be happy and I have my doubts about how much of this happiness will remain when the stress and chaos of having to raise multiple children starts to play its part in our currently stable lives. We are happy as we are, even if we don’t “fit in” with the majority.  

There’s more: 

Right now, I’m in such a happy space with my daughter. We share a solid bond and yet live our own separate lives through the day, only to reunite and reconnect at the end of each one. Best feeling ever, specially now that she can’t stop talking! Exhausting and challenging as it may get, I only come out stronger as a mum. Bottomline is that our lives are going to revolve around my little girl, for the rest of our lives, and making sure she’s at her happiest and healthiest is going to be our number 1 life goal for as long as we live. BUT, I am also coming to the realization that we, as parents, are individuals too. Individuals with our own interests, needs and aspirations. On the brink of burning out as a mum, I learnt that it is very important for me, as an individual, to stay in touch with myself in order to be able to be a happy mum. Happy Mum = Happy Child, remember? So no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to lose our individuality as parents and make our child, our only goal. It’s only gonna suffocate us, and probably even her later, as she starts to get her own life up and running. So, when she sees us as hardworking parents, prioritizing ourselves as individuals too, she is simultaneously learning to discover and value her own individuality as well.

Now, some of these reasons above hold more true to me than for my husband and vice versa. But at the end, we agree to it as a whole, as a team. And I’m so grateful for that, because if that was not the case, it would have led to a lot of complications in our relationship. So I speak for all 3 of us when I say that having one and only one child in our family suits us and works the best for us, as a unit. We love this awesome threesome and look forward to our beautiful lives together, just like any family does!


How I learnt that “Enough crying” should be one of the last things to say to my crying kid.

Never fear those mountains in the distance …

It literally crushes my soul when I see my 3 and a half year old crying, well most of the times when it is for a genuine reason. But at other times, when it is for no reason in particular, I often end up saying “Stop crying, that’s enough!” That’s just because I assume that there’s no good reason for her to cry right now. Now, who am I to assume that?

Crying is a powerful mode of communication. It’s a sign of one being hurt in some way. It’s a feeling and ideally feelings should not be judged as being right or wrong. Genuine or not, we have all said “Stop crying” in response to a crying kid, believing that it’s the quickest way to make that emotional response go away. But is it really? Is it really healthy for kids to hold back their tears ? In my experience, it’s not. Instead, I simply allow it to flow and say a couple of things while my kid vents out her emotions. Here’s what works for me:

“Come, let me give you a hug.”

Sometimes, a simple holding of hands or a tight hug is all that my kid needs to calm down for starters. Investing quality time in the form of a gentle, intimate touch has scientifically proven to release “positive hormones” and induce a feeling of being cared for. TLC (Tender Loving Care) Therapy!

“I’m sorry you feel sad but it’s going to be okay.”

There’s nothing wrong in feeling hurt or upset. IT’S NORMAL! They are strong emotions and could lead to a stronger sense of discomfort. And stepping out of ones comfort zone can be a memorable learning experience. Learning to handle disappointments is a critical life skill and as a parent, I take these moments as opportunities to let my kid know that crying (although distressing) is just “Step 1” in the whole process of bouncing back from disappointments. Feel that emotion, accept the situation and work through it. This too shall pass!

“I am right here, with you. Let’s talk about it.”

Knowing that we are not alone in times of crisis, can be a very uplifting feeling for our spirits. Crisis for one, may not be a crisis for another. It’s only a matter of perspective and experience. Letting my kid know that she’s in a safe space with me and we can get over anything together can work magic. I respect her state of crisis (whatever it may be) and help her to ease that feeling of being overwhelmed with emotions. Gradually, as the emotional cloud clears and the heart settles down, the mind starts to work it’s logic to understand and overcome the crisis at hand. EQ CHECK, IQ CHECK! Now, let’s talk about it.

“Up for a Baby Mama story?”

Walking my kid through my personal experiences as a kid fascinates her in a very obvious way. Stories (real or not) with real emotions always tend to touch her heart as she resonates with the experience. More real life characters (that she knows of) makes it all even more intriguing for her. What one did, what one said, how one felt, how one helped, makes it all even more real for her. Just knowing that her mom went through a similar “crisis” and came through just fine, gives her a sense of hop and confidence that she can do it too. This bond I share with her also helps her to pick out some strategies from my experiences to overcome her current state of distress. She learns from my life stories (and even mistakes) and there’s no better teacher than life itself.

“What do you want to do next?”

Once the problem has been accepted and understood, CHOP CHOP! Let’s move on with it… Do something that makes us feel better and move on with the happy life that we are blessed with. I suggest and then she gets to choose what’s gonna make her feel good. Not acknowledging the problem and suppressing the feelings that go along, is just as unhealthy as is to keep pondering over the problem and the accompanying feelings. Moving on… is also a life skill that’s hard to cultivate but necessary for survival in the mad mad world out there.

As hard a work as these may be, all these efforts do help me in diffusing the state of crisis for my kid faster than saying “Enough crying”. It shouldn’t be about being in control in the power struggle. Feelings can’t be stopped, emotions can’t be enough-ed. It’s about preparing my kid for the larger crisis or disappointments in later life where throwing a tantrum or simply crying isn’t going to be enough to overcome struggles. It’s about empowering my kid to realistically expect hurdles, confidently manage situations, and maturely tackle the the bigger challenges in her beautiful life ahead – physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. BIG PICTURE, is what I like to call it!


Spoilt Child ? I don’t think so …

So often I see my threenager do or say something that shows a blatant sense of entitlement or no sense of gratitude or even a cordial acknowledgement for the privileges available to her. I love her confidence and perseverance but that’s something I will encourage only as long as it’s healthy. When that very quality turns into stubbornness and a full-of-herself kind of attitude, she needs to take a break and re-work on her basic manners and skills that seem to have gone out of order. I take this matter oh so seriously because I know that she is at that vulnerable age where she is at a great risk of growing into a spoilt brat. And I am not raising a spoilt child, come what may. It’s all about accountability and consequences…And it starts right here, right now… in that very moment. Here are some promises I made to myself because I want my child to be the best version of herself … with no regrets, pride only!

#1 : I am not letting this little human boss me or anyone around in a disrespectful way. NO WAY!

With great power comes great responsibility. My responsibility as a parent is to be in-charge. I am not letting my child manipulate me PERIOD. As soon as she starts to seek attention in wrongful ways, as soon as she tries to use her words and actions to guilt me into letting her have her way, I have to put my foot down. Give respect and gain respect … through your choices. It’s a 2 way street!

#2 : I am not always going to give her everything she WANTS.

I am going focus on her capabilities first and then give her what she NEEDS in order to keep up her momentum to becoming a grateful human being. She might not like limits and structure, but it’s necessary for her to understand the value of freedom and choice. When she’s reached there, limits can gradually turn into options, suggestions and advice.

#3: I am not going to clean up her mess.

I can patiently wait for as long as she needs me to, but she needs to organise and put back her stuff after she’s done with it. She is also responsible for where exactly they go because that will help her to locate them when she needs them later. I give her enough time, guidance and reminders throughout her playtime so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed, tired, or too hurried into cleaning up later. Thats all I can do.

#4: I am not going to do everything for her.

I have started to realise that as she is growing up, she is becoming more and more willing to be self sufficient. Me doing every little thing for her gives her the message that she doesn’t NEED to be self sufficient. She could just as easily get used to the privilege and not bother being independent. So I have started to resist the temptation to help her when not needed. Instead I spend time to guide her how to do those things safely and efficiently. I have also started to give her simple responsibilities in the daily chores while she watches her parents do the same at home. Work hard and play harder is a philosophy that teaches the value of and relationship between work and play.

#5 : I am always going to follow through on disciplinary consequences.

No such thing as empty threats, only reasonable consequences. You do the crime, you better do the time. Great choices = endless shout outs and rewards; Poor choices = nagging boo hoo’s and instant loss of choices. If I don’t follow through on disciplinary actions consistently, every single time, she gets an inconsistent message and therefore doesn’t follow through on her good choices consistently either. Words have meaning and she needs to respect that.

#6: I am not going to excuse her rude or bad behaviour.

Because she knows better. She might be just a little kid, she might be a girl, she might be tired, she might be playing silly, she might be too excited, but nothing is an excuse for disobedience or disrespect. Whatever happens, she needs to be aware of and responsible for her behaviour. Consequences will follow.

#7: And lastly, I am always going to make my child think and reason out.

Although the chain of why’s and because’s can be endlessly frustrating with an enthusiastic threenager, it’s still an amazing sign of understanding and reasoning. Walking me through the choices and consequences is the best thing my child can do to learn about accountability. Intentions and motives are the building blocks for choices. My goal is to make her understand how all of these connect together so she can find it all reasonable for herself and not just because I said so!

Its not easy to do the above and I do come across as a “mean mom”. But as a “mean mom”, I mean well and hopefully my child will realise that, sooner or later. I love her to the moon and back and she knows that it’s unconditional. But by now, she also knows that her sad choices hurt my feelings and tries her best to not break my heart. She knows that the softer I talk to her, the more hurt or serious I am. Seeing me hurt, I can see her feel the pain right away. And that very bond makes her reset her attitude and turn her choices around. That’s the little light of mine and I am gonna let it shine! LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE, LET IT SHINE!!!