Do you ever scroll through your Facebook news feed and feel like your kid's a loser? I mean, you love him or her enough to run into a burning building to rescue them without giving it a second thought, but it's frustrating when they just aren't earning the sports awards, academic accolades, or super cool social life you see all your friend's kids enjoying.
And a split second later, you begin to wonder...where did I mess up as a parent that my kid's not on the National Honor Roll, or at every social function that includes a tuxedo and a date, or "signing" with a school his or her senior year to play college ball.
There is A LOT of comparison going on through social media. Our kids do it of course, but parents are just as guilty, if not worse at times. I can't say I haven't participated...hell, I just plastered my kids images all over my blog and FB page this week and then gave the illusion I have parenting all figured out. I am sure I've readily shared their "good news" as well.
Why do we do this?!
Why do we feel like we have to share our kids personal accomplishments with the world through social media, or even in everyday conversation with friends?
Because (a) we can...it's so easy nowadays to share all the great aspects of our lives and leave out the uglier moments, (b) let's face it, it feels pretty good to indirectly pat yourself on the back when your child gets into your alma mater, and (c) what would happen if, god forbid, we didn't participate...people might think our kid isn't as good as their kid, or maybe worse...just (shhh) ordinary.
We've all been fed a line of bullshit for longer than we can remember about when our kid should walk/talk, how much they should sleep, how social they should be, whether or not they know their alphabet and can read by preschool, be good enough to play select, take AP classes in middle and high school...I could go on an on. And we buy into it because our entire goal in life is to raise "happy", well-adjusted, "successful" kids. We measure ourselves constantly on how good our kids are doing compared to everyone else we hear about.
We share these things with others because we want to reassure ourselves we're doing a good job.
After my post the other day, I received a very honest email from a parent who struggles with where her child is in comparison to what she sees on social media. And, taking it a step further, she recognizes it's happening, and has the desire, instead, to better appreciate all the great qualities of her child, without feeling like she's comparing him to others. Above and beyond this point, she has tied the comparison she sees herself making through her child versus other children as an extension of how she feels about herself being judged and compared to others.
So, how many of us can identify with this?
This is a classic example of the fact that it's not about our kids, it's about US!
What?! What do you mean "it's about us"?
What I means is this...you getting caught up feeling jealous of other people's kids accomplishments is NOT about what your child is actually doing (or not doing, as the case may be), but is about your fear that YOU are dropping the ball at raising a "successful" human being.
Which is crazy because logically we all know our kids are going to do what they are meant to do in their own time, when they are ready, and not a moment before. Like walking, or talking, or dating, or going to college. And that's OKAY, it's the way it's supposed to be.
So what can we do about it...this feeling shitty because everyone else's kids are so much more accomplished than ours? We all know social media isn't going anywhere, and it's the nature of the beast to stay connected with others through our personal thoughts and events.
Besides, when there's so much negative in the world today already, why would we add to it by being honest on Facebook and sharing that while our kid did get into that particular college on a full-ride, he is also a disrespectful, ungrateful young man and you can't wait til he's out of the house.
Or, maybe he's an all-over amazing child that can do or say no wrong. You got lucky.
I think the solution for the rest of us is this: when social media "my kid's da bomb" sharing gets to be too much and you get that prickly feeling on the back of your neck and your jaw clenches up, turn it off and walk away.
Then, take that child out for a burger, or an ice cream, or if they're over twenty-one a beer, and connect with that kid. Because chances are, he or she has a lot to offer that you've missed.
Kinda like YOU have a lot to offer that you don't give yourself enough credit for.
All of the unhappiness and inadequacies we harbor inside ourselves can be projected onto our kid's and their behavior. They are an extension of ourselves, yet they are also their own individual human being whose destiny you have very little control over.
So tell me, do you struggle with feeling jealous that other people's kids/homes/lives are more awesome than yours? If so, how do YOU deal with it?
I would love to hear your thoughts, please share below or email me if you prefer at firstname.lastname@example.org.