Don’t Compare … Um, OK … But Then What?!

Everyone says not to compare your child to other kids; all kids develop differently physically and intellectually and emotionally.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Rationally, I know this. But putting it into practice isn’t so easy.

Maya turns six months old on Saturday…  and for as much as I don’t want to compare her to other babies, it’s really really really hard not to. The comparisons — however blatant or subtle–are everywhere.

Every week, The Bump and BabyCenter send me weekly milestones … while they’re intended to be guidelines and nothing more, it’s hard NOT to get caught up in what milestones she is/isn’t hitting.

Next, I have several friends with babies and/or babies around the same age. While there’s no competition among any of us at all, it’s hard to have a conversation without the topic turning to what our little ones are/aren’t doing yet.

And finally, I read tons of parenting books and magazines with a bounty of information on milestones.

I try to use all this information and input as a gauge and nothing more … but if I’m being completely honest with myself, I get a little anxious when I don’t see Maya hitting certain age-appropriate milestones … even if she’s hitting others (and then some).

For example, she is rolling from side to side but the number of times she’s fully rolled over, we can count on one hand. Yet she has been going from an (assisted) sitting position to a standing position for about three months now.  She can sit unassisted for about 10 seconds and is reaching for toys from a sitting position now. She grabs, pulls, and drops now … and she’s super-smiley and giggly; very affectionate. She’s interested in the world around her and pays close attention when we’re eating, getting dressed, doing dishes, etc. And she talks UP A STORM.

All of these are good things; I know. It’s so hard, though, not to get caught up in the little things — like the facts that she’s still pretty small, has no teeth yet, and is just now sprouting some peach fuzz. All in all, she’s doing amazingly well and developing beautifully. I need to remember that.

This is one of those instances where I’m going to need to let go and just let it be … it’s just SO HARD!! Especially when the messages are everywhere.

As long as she’s happy and healthy, that’s all that should matter.

How about you? How do you stop the comparisons? Does it EVER stop? Or do you use milestones as just a gauge and nothing more?


16 thoughts on “Don’t Compare … Um, OK … But Then What?!

  1. I will be the first to tell you that you should unsubscribe from those mailing lists and give away the books now, before it’s too late! 🙂 I spent the entire first year of my son’s life comparing him to other kids and all it did was cause anxiety. I feel that mother’s intuition will tell us if there is something truly wrong with our kids and it sounds to me like Maya is just fine.

    1. Great response! I can’t think of anything to be gained by comparing. I have 3 mos twin boys that are preemies and they aren’t going to register anywhere near what those damn emails would be telling me. Kids are little people. They’re all different.

      1. That’s true, Jodie. The only reason I DO like those emails is because, as Candice notes below, it helps me see what’s coming and what to be on the lookout for. With preemies, the weekly stuff probably is a few weeks ahead of where they would be but I think it’d be good to see what’s coming … so long as we’re not obsessed with it. And you are totally right–they’re ALL different. Even Clark and Jack might not develop at exactly the same rate and in the same way, and they’re twins!

    2. Thanks, Alison. I’m not going to unsubscribe b/c I do like knowing what’s on the horizon but need to reframe my relationship with them. It all came about b/c yesterday on the December 2010 message board on BabyCenter all the girls posted about what their kids were doing milestone-wise and while some seemed really advanced (one kid has SEVEN teeth!) most seemed on par … it just made me a little concerned about the rolling over thing.

  2. Oh yeah…one more thing…their little brains usually focus on either the cognitive OR the physical, not both at once. So if she’s really into talking now, she can’t focus on rolling. Once she starts rolling, she’ll probably stop talking for awhile!

    1. That’s good to know, Alison, and makes sense. I don’t know WHY I’m so hung up on this rolling over business … it’s not like it’s this huge milestone anymore the way it used to be, but still! I see her doing all these other things and it’s the one thing she’s inconsistent with. And they do plenty of tummy time at daycare; I need to do more at home too, I think.

  3. I’m so with you on this. I actually started crying one day because Nate isn’t talking as much as some other babies his age. Meanwhile, he has 14 teeth and pushed our loveseat across the dining room a few weeks ago. I’ve come to accept that he’s definitely more of a physically active kid and less of a clearly talkative one so far. He hit all his physical milestones early and often but he’s not interesting in using too many words.

    My nephew is probably what we would call gifted – by age one, he had over 50 words. He didn’t use them all every day, but he knew them when asked. I have to work really hard not to feel terrible that Nate isn’t like that when my sister’s son is. (Her daughter is average, though, so that helps.)

    I will not unsubscribe from those newsletters, though, because they help me be aware of what he might possibly be doing soon. Otherwise, I wouldn’t think of some things. Clapping is a good example – at the point at which he was supposed to start clapping I was like, “Oh. Are we supposed to show him that?” I don’t think anyone had clapped for him yet so how was he supposed to learn it. LOL

    I think the comparing is completely normal – especially for us Type-A types. But you’re aware you’re doing it and that will help you keep it in check. From how you describe Maya, she seems like most of the baby girls I know – far more interested in communicating than moving.

    (And you and i really need to live closer so we can have these convos in person and I can stop writing novels in your comments section. LOL)

    1. Wow, Candice, you’ve got a little strong man over there!!!! And from what I have heard, boys do tend to talk later and do physical things sooner, so maybe there’s merit to that.

      Holy hell! 50 WORDS? That’s wild! Though the fact that her daughter is average shows that each kid is, indeed, unique–even from the same parents.

      Like you, I wouldn’t unsubscribe and funny you mentioned clapping. A girlfriend of mine, her daughter is 9 mths and has started clapping and I wouldn’t have even known when to think about doing it.

      Yes-I definitely DO NOT want to become some psycho helicopter mom or create drama unnecessarily; I think I’m just a little hyper-aware about the comparisons that exists even when they’re unintended and/or subtle.

      LOL–I COMPLETELY agree — I envision us sitting for coffee for hours gabbing! Maybe we’ll relocate back east when Luis is done with school 😉 And keep the comments coming–I love your insight!

    2. Remember that not all kids are geniuses nor are they meant to be, even when they have overachiever parents! My son is totally average and that’s fine. As long as he’s happy, healthy and has resources available to him so he can play and learn, I don’t care if he doesn’t end up going to Harvard.

      For the record, my son didn’t say a word until 16 months, or walk until 15 months, and he’s fine. He is still not a big talker, and while he loves to run around, he’s not ready for the big scary playground equipment that other kids his age play on. He’s just stubborn and does things on his own time.

      1. That’s an excellent point, Alison, and truthfully at this age, it’s impossible to really know. Putting a dolly in her mouth doesn’t make her an A student, nor does it mean she’s destined for a lifetime of struggles, either. That’s a great attitude about your little man — he is doing things on his own terms and that’s completely OK! 🙂

        And with respect to speaking/communicating, I hear that a lot about boys vs girls … girls tend to talk sooner. So I wouldn’t be concerned about that at all. Funny enough, the past few days she’s been flopping side to side (not flipping–flopping) to reach for toys. So she’s getting there.

  4. I think the first year is the hardest when it comes to comparison. It slows down a bit after that, but now i”m in the whole “who’s kid is talking thing” in my moms group. I truly subscribe to the “all kids are different” mentality these days, but that was a lot more difficult to do in the beginning.

    1. I completely see what you mean–in the beginning it’s like something new every day. I think as a parent–and esp a parent working outside the home who has to trust daycare to do the things with her I’d be doing to advance her physical and mental development — that’s part of why I get so hung up; I’m giving up control for something so critical, ya know? That said, deep down I know they’re doing a great job, but still, it’s hard to accept I’m not with her 24/7. But I do see her flourishing in so many ways and need to remember that. (They tell me she blows raspberries and talks when she wants attention or is bored, which is kind of cute :))

  5. hey Meliss,
    I know we’ve tallked about this many times but I think those Babycenter, Bump e=mails are WAY off and I think it just makes us all crazy. I think we hear about babies that walk at 9 months because it really isn’t all THAT common, and then we think there’s something wrong when they aren’t doing the same exact thing. Stay away from the message boards too. Maya is totally FINE, as I have seen myself! xoxoxoxo

    1. I know, honey, I know — and yes, we are carved from the same cloth! 🙂 I have been trying to not focus too much on the MBs but I happened to come across that 6-mth one and was like hmmm m… thing is, those babies on the December 2010 board could be 6 mths or 7 mths by now … and each week makes a difference. XOXO

  6. okay and who’s baby has 7 teeth at 6 months??? Noa is almost 10 months and has 2 teeth and the top 2 just started coming in. BTW, my coworker has a 12 month old who is still toothless and she looks really cute all gummy and stuff!

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