The poison of comparison in parentingWritten by Dr. Tim Kimmel
What's inside this article
Comparison is the poison pill of parenting. It not only kills your joy, it snuffs out your ability to mine the ore of potentiality that has been placed deep down inside your "average" child – a child who happens to be made in God's image.
And what makes it all worse is the painful reality that any time we let ourselves compare our children to the airbrushed ideals that our culture celebrates, our children realize it. They get that gut-level feeling deep down inside that they’ve fallen short of our hopes for them.
It’s easy to trip into this trap. We live in the secular context of a 24/7 worship service that sings praises to the beauty, talent and accomplishments of youth. And, often, it’s a good friend, grandparent or older sibling who is leading the cultural praise choir.
Batting averages, GPAs, "Britney Spears" looks, class rank, dress sizes and major awards become the unconscious grading scale. And even though only a precious few get to hit the standard, they nevertheless become the benchmark for too many disappointed parents.
We can’t forget all of the spiritual class-envy that can happen between Christian families, too.
You observe what appears to be a teenage apostle-in-the-making who can’t wait to get to church, reads his Bible every day, engages the adults around him in intelligent conversation and never falls short of making his parents look good.
And then you study your son, a boy who seldom goes to church without a fight; who is fortunate to remember his shoes, let alone his Bible; whose head may be on front-wards but whose hat rarely is; who can’t seem to put together a two-syllable word in response to a Sunday school teacher’s question.
It’s like a bad episode of American Idol and Simon is cleaning his teeth on the bones left after his critique of your child’s performance.
Stop for a second. Step back. Take in the BIG picture.
The voice of Truth
Who’s the mastermind behind the comparison compulsion of the world anyway? Last time I checked, it was that liar who slithered into Eden. I haven’t heard that he’s changed his tune. His lies about what’s important are still lies, even if the rank and file of an entire generation embraces his lies with all they’ve got.
Then there is this other voice out there Who whispers your name. And even though the culture may try to drown Him out, His voice still slips through the clamour of comparison: "Come unto Me. I will never leave you. I am the way. I will give you rest. Be anxious for nothing. Cast all your cares upon Me. I'll be with you always. If you have Me, you have life."
That is the very voice that longs to echo in our hearts when we look at our average kids. He wants us to see with His eyes and realize just how extraordinary our struggling, average kids really are.
Ordinary people, extraordinary God
Take the stories of four average people in the Bible. These unremarkable people happened to put what little they had at the disposal of the Saviour, but the impact of their contributions exceeded those of any member of "Who’s Who" in youth culture today.
There was the young teenage girl who was asked by God to offer up her womb. He just needed it for nine months. It almost cost her a fiancé. It surely cost her good reputation. But the world was in desperate need of a Saviour, and so a teenage girl with no social pedigree said, "Yes," and, in the process, became one of the most revered women in all history.
There was a boy with a meagre lunch who handed it over to a man who had the recipe for the "bread of life." His "average" offering was turned into a feast which guaranteed that none of the 5,000 people around him went home hungry.
There was that hardscrabble young fisherman who reluctantly placed his common, filthy foot into the hands of the Fisher of Men and discovered the secret to a thorough bath for his soul. He learned what God can do when we hand over the vilest parts of our lives to His cleansing grace.
Then there was the ordinary businessman who offered his own burial tomb, a crude cave in the side of a hill, to a crucified Redeemer. That hole out of rock became the staging area for His transformation into the Resurrection and the Life.
He can do the same with your children. He can do the same with you.
Ordinary people. An extraordinary God. Why compare, when you already have it all?
Dr. Tim Kimmel is the author of Why Christian Kids Rebel and the award-winning Grace Based Parenting. He is also the executive director of Family Matters®, a non-profit ministry that equips families to appropriate God’s grace in every age and stage of life. For more information about Tim, his books and his conferences, visit FamilyMatters.net.
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