The New Parent Trap

manic Monday

The New Parent Trap

Confession: I am judgmental. I see often see things in black and white, with little wiggle room between right and wrong. I “call ’em like I see ’em” sometimes without regard for the feelings of others. I am quick-tempered, think justice should be swift and thorough, and that those who continuously make bad choices should be given no more chances. However, I know the value of grace and mercy. I have learned empathy and how to look at a situation from many perspectives. I am improving. Thank God, He isn’t through with me yet!

Before I became a wife and mother, I worked as a social worker. One of the core social work values is that each person has “inherent dignity and worth” and is to be treated with respect. As a Christian, this principle is summed up in “the Golden Rule” (Treat others as you want to be treated). When working with parents that are often putting personal needs above that of their children, this is a difficult task to carry out. I am sure I failed numerous times to treat some of them with “inherent dignity”, particularly with the mother who has chosen her “paramour” over her children in situations of substantiated abuse or the parents who fulfill their wants over their child’s needs. I did my part to show the children unconditional love and respect while letting them determine their level of attachment during my time with them.

Though the Mommy Wars rage on all around me, I often find myself camped on the outside of the extremes. Many days, I wonder if my way is the best even as I’m tweaking our current method of doing things to improve the harmony of our home. Other days, I observe a situation and quickly have to fight off the “at least we aren’t like that” thoughts. It is the great Comparenting Trap.*

We often fall into this trap by our own prideful thinking. This or that family does such and such in this or that manner and we 10425099_10152816916494779_49011576819769011_nare better or worse for doing it in some other such way. If we are deeply honest, we’re anxiously searching for a way to get off the speeding merry-go-round of comparenting before we get too sick to parent our children.

Maybe you are wondering what I meant by “comparenting” or maybe you’ve rightly guessed it is made by combining comparison + parenting. This equation never adds up to a happy individual or a happy home. It multiplies bitterness and envy. It divides love and nurturing. It subtracts fun and learning. While we busy ourselves with comparenting, we may miss the most important moments of raising our children. If we focus on what other parents are doing, who is watching our kids? If our focus is on how much better or worse our child is behaving or performing in a particular subject or developmental area, who is appreciating our child for who he/she is at this moment just as God made him/her?

Isn’t it time to stop spinning? Isn’t it time to focus on the family in front of you? Get off the merry-go-round, solve the proper equation, and get out of the Comparenting Trap. You might stumble and go back to some old thoughts now and then. When the old way of thinking threatens to take over, remember that the days are long and years go by so fast.

*I made up this word (spell check and Grammarly hate me for it) but that doesn’t make this new parent trap less real.

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13 thoughts on “The New Parent Trap

  1. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard

    As a former high school teacher, I understand some of those frustrations. I certainly was a perfect parent before I had children. God really convicted me of this point a few years ago and has been actively helping me see how to live in obedience to Him is the only definition of perfect I need to worry about. And being an example is much more influential than being critical. I know I listen to people who listen to me. I’ve learned a lot about seeing people as souls that God loves despite their sins, just like He does me. Changed my ‘comparenting’ for good! Love your made up word. Fits so perfectly in this Pinterest and FB and instagram world.
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…Crashing into RealityMy Profile

    1. growin49_wp

      Seeing each person we encounter as a soul – beautifully stated! Thank you for stopping by and enjoying my made up word.

  2. Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard

    God really convicted me on this point a few years ago and has been gradually changing the way I handle it all. I’ve realized that the only perfection I seek is His, the rest are worldly definitions that are not as important as Pinterest and FB make them seem. Living as an example is a lot more influential than judging. And I love your new word – COMPARENTING – perfect.

  3. Bibi

    Wow – yes, yes, yes. I plead guilty!! Comparenting – thank you so much for pointing it out. It is so easy to compare yourself with other parents, be it in person, via social media or even other blogs , where it seems as if all the other mom’s and dad’s got it made.
    How we think, how we comparent ourselves has such a great impact on the lives of our Little Ones.

    Thank you so much for your encouraging post, It was a true blessing to have had the opportunity to read it!!
    Hope you have a wonderful day.

    PS: I love made up words! comparenting . . . red squiggly lines throughout my comment . . . 😀
    Bibi recently posted…Attentiveness vs Unconcern Part 2My Profile

    1. growin49_wp

      Social media has certainly made the problem worse! I am glad you found the post entertaining and encouraging!

  4. Heather Hart

    Being judgmental is so EASY! Whether we are judging others or ourselves, judging as failures or ideal, I’m always struggling with this. What a great reminder to live in the moment with our focus on God and who He created our children (and us) to be.
    Heather Hart recently posted…I Shall LiveMy Profile

    1. growin49_wp

      I struggle too, which is why I wrote this piece. I am glad you found encouragement here!

  5. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    “Comparenting” – oh my goodness, I love it. Yes, definitely a trap we need to stay out of. God wants us to uniquely parent the children he’s blessed us with.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day!
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…Back to Homeschool Supply ListMy Profile

    1. growin49_wp

      Uniquely parent, yes, just as each child is a unique gift. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Meredith@MommyAtoZ

    I LOVE the term “comparenting trap”! I know what you mean. I love the question you ask about who is watching our children while we’re busy judging others. Too true! Thanks for sharing at the Manic Mondays blog hop!
    Meredith@MommyAtoZ recently posted…W is for… Wednesday Weird Parenting NewsMy Profile

    1. growin49_wp

      Since I do have my license to be nosey in social work, I’m often watching EVERYTHING, which might be dangerous. Rest assured, I’m doing this to keep my kids and yours safe, not to judge others. Glad you liked the post!

  7. Lizzy

    Yep, I’ve been in trouble for this judging other parents thing, and God has bringing a lot of stuff to my rememberence, in fact I’ve asked him to because what we sow in judgement we reap, so I’ve been repenting and asking God to replace my bad seeds with good ones, and blessing the parent I’ve judged. 🙂

    1. growin49_wp

      Not the easiest course of action, Lizzy, but certainly the right one. May God bless you in this course of action. Thank you for sharing.

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