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Parenting isn't Comparing

Parenting not Comparing

How do we as parents make sure that we treat our kids as
individuals? I think that we all must know on some level that comparing
your children’s abilities and accomplishments is not a good parenting
tactic. Comparing can lead to resentment of the children towards each
other and you, and who needs that? I have become somewhat of an expert
on not comparing, and celebrating all 4 of my kid’s individual talents
and skills. I will say that it did take a conscious effort to stop and
think before I spoke. My boys are 20 months apart. They have been close
since they day they met. My oldest son Nick is a brilliant authentic
young man. Chris, his brother is a unique person. He is one of those
kids that have it all. We like to call it “well rounded”, brains,
athletic talent, good looks, socially gifted, is how to describe him.
Then I have been blessed with twin daughters. Not comparing them was
easier in a way since I had already been a practicing non-comparing
parent for a few years when they came along. Baby A turned out to be
Jenn, and Baby B is Kailey.
I believe that the first time I became aware of the comparing issue was
when Chris, my younger son first began to walk. Nick, his older brother
walked at 10 months. I thought that was pretty early and was so proud of
him. Chris walked just before his 7th month. Really, he did. He never
did crawl, and the Pediatrician told me that he was going to
developmentally delayed. This was because a baby apparently needs to
crawl to learn how to coordinate his hand eye movement. That wasn’t the
case with him. He started speaking full sentences when he was 19 months
old. He has always been like that. Same thing happened when they learned
how to ride bikes. Nick learned in about 20 minutes, which again, is
quite impressive. Chris got on the first time and peddled off. Really,
he did.
Playing sports came
to my kids early on. Nick started soccer at 5. I will never forget the
look on Chris’ face when we got to his first soccer practice. Chris had
come all dressed , ready to play. When he was told he wasn’t old enough
to play, he looked as though his brand new puppy had run away. Chris
soon was able to play soccer, but disliked playing with “ the babies”,
his words to describe kids his age. When it came time for t-ball, I
found that both boys could play on the same team. That would have
certainly made things easier on my end; however, it did not seem like
the best thing for the boys. Instead of taking them to practice and
games, 2 or 3 nights a week, we did 4 to 5 nights a week. This was so
that Nick could be Nick, and so that Chris could be Chris. Mind you ,
that first season, I also had 2 6 month olds to bring to every practice
and game, all at dinnertime. Sometimes, you just have to pull pull-up
your big girl panties and do what’s right for your kids.
Chris sad because he wasn’t able to play soccer with his brother.

Then came the girls, who are twins. With twins, it is obviously more
of a challenge. My girls are fraternal, which I think helped. I never
did refer to them as “the twins”. They have always been, “the girls”
which I think has also helped in seeing them as individuals. They are
not similar at all except for the fact that they are sisters, born on
the same day. It is interesting when people see them for the first time
and learn they are twins. Probably 9 out of 10 times, they say something
like “Oh sure, I see it now, they DO look alike”. Can I just say that
they look nothing alike? They don’t have the same color hair or eyes,
they don’t have the same body shape, and one is always taller than the
other. Baby A, Jenn is similar to her brother Chris. Baby B, Kailey is
more like her brother Nick. Jenn wanted to play sports just as Chris
did. Soccer was her first sport. As with her brother, she excelled at it
right off the bat. I chalked it up to her spending so much time
watching her brother play, it must has rubbed off on her. Shame on me
for not giving her more credit! She is an extraordinary athlete in her
own right. She has since stopped soccer and focused on basketball.
Kailey did not start soccer with her sister. I often tell this story
about her. When she was 5, and it was time to sign her up for soccer,
she said that she did not want to play. I said, ok, and asked why, since
her sister was. Kailey looked up innocently and said, she did not want
to play because she “ didn’t like to sweat”. I took that answer and
pondered it. Was that acceptable? Her sister did not mind sweating, so I
guess that was how she was going to be different. Maybe she was not
going to be the athlete that her brothers and sister were. Instead of
pushing her, I tried to find other activities for her to be involved
with. She had to find something to identify herself as separate as her
twin. I figured since she was more of a free spirit, let’s put her in
dance, or ballet. But first, I did want to know, what was wrong with
sweating? When I approached her to ask that question, she basically had
no answer! It was something similar, to ” just cuz, I don’t like it”. In
my world, that was not good enough, forget the fluffy dance and ballet,
you are going to be a jock like the rest of them! I should say that
eventually we did try the fluffy stuff with her, ballet and dance. I
don’t know why, but it did not stick, and that was the end of that.
Jenn’s first soccer team photo

Kailey’s attempt at fluff
What has become a challenge is dealing with the different athletic
abilities of the girls. Jenn is a fluid athlete. There hasn’t been too
much of anything she hasn’t tried and been good at. Kailey is a very
talented athlete also, but her real forte is reading. I call her a
bookaholic. There was a stretch during the summer where she was inhaling
a book a day. She is one of the most gifted writers I have read. What
do I do as a supportive parent? Do I make Kailey drop the books and hit
the gym, or do I make Jenn leave the gym, and hit the books? Or do I
encourage both of them to pursue their individual talents. Both girls
are competitive and have been able to play on the same team. Looking
back, I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part. I always got the
boys on different teams, so they could be seen as individuals, why did I
not do that with the girls? In hindsight, I should have done the same
thing with them as I did the boys. It has been difficult for Kailey to
be compared to her sister by other people. I cannot tell you how many
times I was asked, is Kailey ok with not getting as much playing time as
Jenn, or the fact that Jenn was the high scorer again, etc. Believe me
when I say we have had the “Why each player on the team is important “
talk many times over the years. I may have screwed up by not following
my own rules, on the other hand, the girls did get to share many
different kinds of experiences that have bonded them even more.
To have such a wonderful balance of testosterone and estrogen in the
house made things fairly even keeled. I have to give kudos to Nick. He
has been the role model, trailblazer, and leader of his siblings. He has
taken his brothers talents and gift in stride and does not think less
of himself because his little brother rocks at everything he does.
Perhaps that is why Chris has been able to succeed as well. Chris knows
that whatever he does, it is about him, and no one else. That is what it
is all about, love, acceptance, support and nurturing.

Mom and Nick at his college football game