On comparisons

Hello parents.

Your child is a miracle. She’s gone from a thought to a pulsing mass of cells to this bundle of cute in perpetual motion.

Is that not good enough for you? Is it important if your daughter is not as tall as someone else’s child of the same age? I find such comparisons tedious, boring and stupid. Simply because children develop differently. Yes, genes are genes, but they kick in at different times and take your children in wildly different directions.

Is that such a tough concept to get your head around? Ever since tyke was born I’ve had the misfortune of running into people who never seem to be satisfied with their lot in life. In one incident I had the parent comparing appetites and wondering why tyke ate less than their child but was taller. Then there was a time when tyke’s appetite was the subject of much concern for another lady whose child wasn’t eating as much.

“If you feed him so much his stomach might ache.”

I wanted to applaud her heroism for uttering that sentence through intense physical misery that only jealousy can inflict.

Really, the only people allowed to appraise your child’s hands, feet, head, mouth, teeth are the doctors who delivered her because it is their job to do so.

You know who I feel sorry for? The children. They have NO idea their initiation into a world of benchmarks and comparisons begins when their mater and pater become mater and pater. They have a long road ahead of them. Full of learning, heartbreak, comparisons, overachievement, underachievement. Congratulations to the parents who ensure they never get a respite even when their children are unable to speak or express themselves.

Go easy on your kids. They’ll do what they were meant to do, what they’re good at, WHEN they’re meant to do it.

I mean, I’m sure your moms thought you were going to be such rockstars but you grew up to be asshole parents!

So, stop comparing.

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19 responses to “On comparisons”

  1. Purnima Rao says :

    “I mean, I’m sure your moms thought you were going to be such rockstars but you grew up to be asshole parents!”
    Hahahaha – Love it!
    I hope that Tyke gets to read this blog some day when he’s older. Whatay first class dad he has.

  2. Giribala says :

    I am done with parenting, so don’t even want to discuss it :-)

  3. Overrated Outcast says :

    This should be essential reading for new parents. Especially a lot of Indian parents. Subjecting toddlers to the rat race is a horrible thing.

  4. Aashish says :

    Herd mentality. Peer pressure. Self reference. Reliving your life via your kids’. Any which way, things will not change in any big way any time soon.

    • daddysan says :

      Reasons well summarized. I hope this changes when they’re babies and toddlers at least.

      • Aashish says :

        Hope so.. These things are generational. No sweeping change possible. A few folks will change – are changing. Its a slow process. In general, I don’t think at least the Indian parents are anywhere close to ignoring peer pressure.

        Sample comment I have heard in PTA: “My daughter cannot spell ELEVEN, though she can spell THIRTEEN. You aren’t paying enough attention to her”. Girl in question was 6. Its a long way, mostly bleak.

  5. Natasha says :

    Salaam Daddy Sir!
    In my part of the world, I wouldn’t listen so much to doctors either. So many of them are the willing victims of the same culture that wants to fit everyone in neat labelled boxes. Homogenize everyone, have no tolerance for differences and ridicule those who don’t seem to fit.
    Shut down the noise and listen to yourself. You’ll find instinct, you’ll find that you have an ability to make judgements on your own!
    I think I’ve said this before…. thank you for speaking up, Daddy.
    best, Natasha

  6. Shefaly says :

    Neeraj

    I suppose I shouldn’t even be commenting on this but I have known several babies and kids for the last 12-15 years, and as I am at a safe distance but closely engaged in their lives, I can say something with more dispassion than most parents can muster on the matter.

    Comparing is exactly what doctors do, when they say the child is in the 5th or 95th percentile for height or weight for his/ her age group. It establishes whether the child is doing ok for his/ her age and if anything needs extra attention. Parents – including atheists and agnostics – take the doctor’s word for gospel of some sort and make many decisions about and affecting their child based on that comparison.

    In pure homo economicus terms, instead of labelling your fellow parents as “arsehole parents”, think of it as the child equivalent of the ranked income hypothesis (or in plain English, why having more income/ consumption/ possessions than others influence happiness more than just earning/ spending/ having a lot). In expecting people not to compare their children, you are asking them to move away from the social fabric they – and you – live in. If people thought as much before having children, as they are expected to after they have children, most children would never be born.

    Also would these parents be deserving of the epithet “arseholes” if the same comparisons implied your child was the tallest in his cohort? Or the smartest, and virtually off-the-charts at hand-eye coordination? Or some such? This is the problem with nearly every argument. We tend to accept those comparisons and stereotypes that are “positive” (e.g. Indians are numerate) and reject those that are not (e.g. Indians smell of spices). If we want such an ideal state of things, every thought, not just some, has to be deliberative. For most human beings that is tiring. As if running after a crawling baby weren’t tiring enough. :-)

    I doubt anyone’s parents expect their child to be rockstars. All effort as far as I have seen goes into ensuring the child doesn’t become an arsehole and then the realisation dawns that all you provide is the genetic and early scaffold.The building that is built is built by many people and influences parents do not and can not control.

    • daddysan says :

      Shefaly, that is what I’m saying!

      1. Doctors are allowed to do this

      2. Parents are asshole parents if they compare their children before real differences in abilities have started to develop. Babies and toddlers? Give me a break.

      It’s what I was discussing with Hemant too.

  7. Hemant Puthli says :

    Couldn’t agree more! The world we were born into was quite competitive, but the world our children have been introduced to is even more fiercely so. And significantly more densely populated (which is probably the root cause).

    Our challenge as parents, IMO, is to find the golden mean that balances, on the one hand, teaching our children to be successful in a highly competitive world, with, on the other, imparting to them the wisdom and maturity that would enable them to have a happy life, transcending inane benchmarks, overcoming the compelling need to constantly compare with peers.

    • daddysan says :

      Absolutely. No one denies competition or the need to prepare your child for it. But there’s a time and place for it along with a combination of a parent’s judgment and an appreciation of the child’s developing abilities.

      Comparing babies and toddlers is either living in a fool’s paradise (if you think you’re trumping the competition) or ruining your present (if you think you’re getting the short end of the stick).

  8. nyx says :

    I wish fathers like you didn’t stand out, because that would mean there were many, many more parents who didn’t subject their kids to spirit-crushing comparisons. You’re a fine daddy, daddysan.

    • daddysan says :

      Those are wonderful words I’m not sure I entirely deserve. I’ve made some shitty mistakes even as a new dad and I use this blog as a device to disseminate cautionary tales: either my own or observations that don’t sit well with me.

      Will continue improving :)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  9. sai kumar says :

    read from a child’s point of view i am lucky to not have been compared…it must be really painful..

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