‘But All My Friends Have One'

Girls trying on sunglasses in store
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My daughter Amelia saw her friend Kaitlyn wearing shorts that she liked. She told me, "Kaitlyn's mom bought her a pair," implying that I needed to buy those shorts for my daughter, also.

I groaned. This wasn't the first time Amelia played the comparison card. She would note one tween's cellphone, another's shoes and a different girl's designer jeans. I pointed out that every girl didn't have that brand of boots, go for pedicures or have a cellphone, but my tween didn't get it. So I tried a different tack.

A new perspective

I said, "Would you like to be compared to Kaitlyn in everything?" Amelia hesitated. I continued, "Because if you'd like her to be your comparison — in everything — we can do that." Then I listed some things Kaitlyn didn't have.

Amelia's response was quick and without attitude. "No, that's OK." Pointing out her distorted focus on one possession of one individual brought Amelia's mind back from her entitled attitude. The full comparison won't work in all situations because some kids really may have more than your child does. In those cases, a bigger discussion about envy may be necessary. But when my child is stuck on a micro-comparison, I've found that I simply need to broaden her perspective.

Comparisons at home

A few weeks later, Amelia slipped and compared her freedoms — comings and goings and the spending of money — to that of her older brother.

"If you would like to compare yourself to Isaac," I said, "then that's what we'll do. You can have his freedoms if you take his same level of responsibility. He has a job, helps around our home without being asked, bought his cellphone and pays for the service. Is that what you want?"

Without hesitating, she said, "No, I'm good."

Helping Amelia gain perspective on comparisons righted her thinking. My hope is that one day the only comparison she'll make is her words and actions with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

This article first appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family. Get Thriving Family delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
Copyright © 2016 by Ann Vande Zande. Used by permission.

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