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How I Stopped Comparing My Kids to Others

Photograph by Twenty20

I couldn't take it anymore—those late nights in bed, scrolling through the Instagram superhighway of comparison. You know this road. About 10 minutes in, you take a pit stop and grab some good old fashioned self-hatred just before heading straight into the Why Does Everyone Have It Better Than Me land of no return. It's a minefield out there.

As if it weren't enough to have to digest all those perfectly curated meals, lattes, outfits, office spaces, Airbnbs and interiors, just one more plate of avocado toast, and I swear I could break the Internet.

I just about un-followed everyone. One after the other. If you were painfully perfect, you were dead to me. I only followed people I knew who might actually be offended if I un-followed. All that was left was my messy, real life friends.

Things felt better. For a beat. But then another kind of comparison started happening. It wasn't over who had better letter writing or a more organized kitchen—it was whose kid was doing more than mine.

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My comparison game was stronger than ever. I felt like an epic #mommyfailure.

Oh no, here comes someone's 6-year-old swimming laps in the ocean. My kids think doing the doggie paddle is swimming. An 8-year-old girl skiing? My 9-year-old can't even ride a bike! There was another 9-year-old who had written a novel, (mine is still reading baby books) and a 5-year-old doing a flip (neither of mine do gymnastics). There was more: hip-hop dance offs, performances of all kinds, violin concertos. My comparison game was stronger than ever. I felt like an epic #mommyfailure.

Social media has one goal: to make you feel like shit—even more so if you already suffer from comparing yourself to others (like I do).

If you're like me and find yourself now comparing your kids too, there are few ways to stay immune from assholes who post every milestone their over-achieving, prodigy children accomplish.

Here's how:

1. Unfollow anyone on Instagram whose life—real, imagined or curated—makes you feel bad.

2. Filter your Facebook page the same way.

All those annoying mothers who do nothing but post boasting updates and photos of their brilliant kids? Simply click on the "Following" box in their main landscape photo, scroll down to bottom of the drop down and choose to "Unfollow." Now their bullshit will no longer come up in your feed. The best thing is, they will have no idea just how irritating you think they are, because you have not unfriended them. Yet.

3. Go on a digital diet.

If you're seeing what other kids are doing everywhere (online magazines, mom blogs, newspapers, gossip sites) just stop. Go on a digital diet. You will still get clips, hits and highlights about the ways in which all the other kids are far surpassing yours in real life—that you will never be able to modulate. You do however have control of what you read on the Internet.

4. Focus on what your kids CAN do.

If all they are "good at" is playing, then let them play their asses off. If it makes them happy, then there you go. The ultimate goal should always be their happiness. And their happiness might not align with yours. So tough shit. Let it go. You were hoping for a concert pianist and all you got was a kid who likes to doodle? You get what you get; don't get upset.

5. Remember, everyone goes at their own pace.

Let them discover who they are on their own time table.

So maybe your 9-year-old doesn't dance, ride a bike, sing, play an instrument or like to get off their ass? Who knows who they will be in high school? Give them time. Let them discover who they are on their own time table.

6. Pushing kids is actually worse for them.

There is a ton of literature on this. Read up on it. You are not doing them any favors by busting their ass. In fact, it can cause more harm than good.

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7. Let them find their own passion.

Newsflash: This kid is not you. The kid is also not your lost hopes and dreams for yourself. Your kid is not your unrealized passions you wish you hadn't given up on. Passion is overrated anyway. Passion is mostly a fetish in our culture. Passion is bullshit. Let's raise kids who are decent, full of love, moral and compassionate creatures. The only passion they need is in their hearts. The best you can do is teach them to love and care deeply about the world around them. You do this by doing the same, not by curating a gorgeous tablescape or taking photos of the lunch you packed them.

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