While parenting in years past had its challenges, parenting in the age of social media can be daunting. And I’m talking about the parents here, not about protecting our kids. In a world of Pinterest-perfect houses and families, it is easy to start parenting by comparisons. But is basing our parenting decisions on comparisons really what we are called to do? As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So why do we so often compare our children and our parenting with others?
It’s so easy to start comparing our children to anyone and everyone else’s. Is my homeschool kid smarter than yours or smarter than her public school friends? Are my children properly socialized? Are they going to be ready for life? We want our children to have and be the best. So, we use comparisons with other families as our measuring stick. But our motivation for parenting should not be any of these goals. Instead, it should be obedience in response to our love for Jesus Christ. What does HE want from our children?
What Does God Say?
So, does the Bible have anything to say about making comparisons? Actually, it has quite a lot to say about it. Let’s do a little topical study on this topic and see some of what God’s Word has to say about the matter.
- Galatians 1:10: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
- Galatians 6:4: But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.
- John 21:22: Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
- 1 Corinthians 11:1: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 10:12: Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.
God’s Word clearly, over and again, tells us that our only comparison should be with how well we are doing in following Him and His calling. As parents, our job is to do everything we can to teach our children to love God and to try to be more like Jesus. It really does not matter who is better at math or who got a better ACT score. What matters is that our children learn to figure out and follow God’s plan for them.
Letting Go, Letting God
Here is both the hard and amazing part of this. While God has given our children into our care, they are not actually our responsibility. They are His. And His love for them is so much greater than ours. He knows what is best for them. By turning the burden over to Him, we can alleviate the stress of parenting caused by making comparisons. It does not matter what anyone else’s children are or are not doing. What matters is that we are training up our children in the way God has for them.
But this is scary, too. Because it means letting go. We need to let our children be and do what God wants them to be and do, whether it matches up with our desires or not. And this means letting go of our control and sometimes allowing them to do things that take a lot of praying to be peaceful about. God has a wonderful, amazing plan for each of our children, but it is HIS plan, not ours. And we need to pray for our children to clearly hear the call of God in their lives and then to follow that call with peace and joy because they know that it is God’s plan for their lives.