Moms today face pressures from seemingly all angles, but few pressures compare to those we put upon ourselves. One way that moms tend to pile it on, so to speak, is by comparing their lives to the lives of other moms—or at least their perceptions of the lives of other moms.
I thought I’d dig into this comparison trap that many moms find themselves in. I spoke to parenting coach and blogger Shelley Jefsen who helps parents at MamaDuck.com. Here’s what she shared on mom comparison.
The Epoch Times: It’s been said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Do you think comparison is a significant problem for today’s moms?
Shelley Jefsen: Comparison is the thief of joy for moms to the extent to which they allow it. Often, it is the sheer act of misplaced focus when examining someone else’s life, instead of the inner reflection required when examining one’s own, that causes loss of joy.
The Epoch Times: Why do you believe comparing ourselves to other moms tends to lead to anxiety or sadness?
Mrs. Jefsen: When writing about the dangers of fear and judgment on my blog, I described the cycle of comparison, judgment, and poor child behavior.
For instance, imagine a mother is grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon with her 2-year-old. The child’s behavior begins a downward spiral. Soon a tantrum is happening and her child has gotten quite loud. The majority of moms, under the pressure of fear of judgment and comparison to other children’s good behavior, will begin to appease the child in any way she can to make the tantrum stop.
This type of parenting perpetuates poor child behavior, in which the child will almost certainly repeat the behavior again and again. Unable to gain control over the situation and improve behavior, that mother will undoubtedly feel high levels of anxiety when taking her child anywhere in public.
Naturally, a mama’s heart would be heavy with sadness at her preference to leave her child at home rather than deal with another stressful outing.
To the contrary, a mom who has brushed off comparison and fear of judgment will not be manipulated by her child’s poor behavior. No attempts are made to appease, pacify, or placate her child, therefore improving future behavior and subsequent peaceful shopping trips.
No comparison means better parenting, which means better child behavior, which means more joy!
The Epoch Times: How do you think social media exacerbates the negative impacts of comparison for moms, in particular?
Mrs. Jefsen: Unfortunately, the “mommy has to hide in the closet with a bottle of wine because her children are too much to deal with” videos, memes, and posts are so romanticized among social media that they’ve negatively influenced mothers into believing you have to get on the “mommy-fail” train in order to be a “cool kid.”
The time spent scrolling through video after video on social media about the burdens of motherhood could be more productively spent connecting with, training, and disciplining our children, resulting in far less comparison, fear, mistaken judgment, etc.
The Epoch Times: What practical steps would you advise moms to take to reduce the negative impact of comparison in their lives?
Mrs. Jefsen: When coaching mothers on reducing the negative impact of comparison, my first piece of advice is always to take ownership of their own choices, behavior, and thoughts.
Choose positive and affirming resources and influences to nourish your motherhood journey.
Unsubscribe, unfollow, mute, tune-out, and click away from any piece of content or information that seeks to glorify the hardship for the sake of popularity.
Choose to focus on tangible, practical, applicable steps you can take toward improving the circumstances you find yourself comparing. Where focus goes, power flows. The areas you focus on will surely improve. As a result, you’ll find yourself more grateful for the results you’re seeing, the life you’re living, and the fulfillment it all brings as opposed to longing for the results of another person’s choices.
The Epoch Times: Do you believe all comparison is bad? Is there a more positive way moms can look at comparison?
Mrs. Jefsen: Comparison, by definition, is a means to measure. As such, comparison in regards to a person’s joy cannot be advantageous or beneficial.
Choose instead to put an edifying spin on comparison.
For instance, instead of comparing a friend’s ability to maintain a meticulous home against your inability to do so, choose to commend her skills and be fully confident of your own, whatever they may be—because I am certain each mother has strengths she should be quite proud of!
The Epoch Times: Do you have any other advice for moms who struggle with comparing themselves to others?
Mrs. Jefsen: Know that you were created for your children, and your children for you. No one can parent them better.
Be overtly cognizant of the voices you listen to, the materials you watch and read, and the influence all of it is having on your heart and mind.
You have a full and beautiful life to live and you just can’t do so if you’re paralyzed by fear of judgment or trapped in comparison, wishing you were living someone else’s.