It’s inevitable. Even the best parents will make a comment at some point comparing you to someone else.
Whether it’s your brother, sister, cousin, friend-whoever it is, it hurts and can leave you feeling less-than. This can definitely put a strain on your mental and emotional health as well as your relationship with them!
There are 3 main reasons why your parents do it. The good news is it has less to do with you personally, and more about your parents! Plus, there’s something you can do about it, too.
When a baby is born (and beyond), doctors compare the growth and cognitive development to that of a typical healthy developing child. Often using terms such as “percentile and milestones”.
If a child is in the 90th percentile for height this means that the child is fairly tall for their age, compared to that of other children of the same age. This becomes a habitual mindset in parents who worry about their children’s development.
Are they walking when they are supposed to? Are they eating enough? Are they developing appropriate social skills? And so on.
New parents are forced to be aware of certain developmental milestones to ensure their kid is growing and learning properly for at least the. We know everyone grows and develops at their own pace, but it can be tough to ignore a doctor or a pediatrician’s advice.
Especially as a first-time parent. And if your parents did not have good parents, there’s a likely chance that your parents are repeating the same rhetoric that their parents pushed onto them. That’s not your fault.
This one is a little deeper than the last. Your parents are likely comparing you to others because that’s what their parents did to them.
Of course, this is not excusable. It still hurts, but it is a thing that happens. When people don’t know better, they usually end up parenting the exact same way their parents did to them.
If your parents have their own unresolved traumas from their childhood, this can end up being a toxic relationship. Toxic parents usually have a lack of boundaries. They think they can say hurtful things without consequence. This can leave you feeling defenseless and hurt, unable to confront your parents for fear of backlash.
When a parent has a lack of emotional intelligence education, a lack of resources, or unresolved trauma, a few things can happen. Repeating patterns, healing, or projecting.
Sometimes, parents can project their own fear, insecurities or dreams into their parenting style. Maybe they wanted to be an all-star athlete, model, or big time CEO and have pressured the ideals of those things into you.
Perhaps they ridicule you in your adulthood and seem disappointed that you aren’t a doctor like the neighbor, Mrs. Johnson’s son or a collegiate soccer star like your sister.
Parents tend to see their children as an extension of themselves and not as the unique individuals we are. When we go a different direction or do something that doesn’t align with their internal plans, they feel hurt. Which is often followed by the projection of their own issues onto us.
What Can You Do?
You can’t control what they think or what they say but there are a couple things you can do.
You can express your concerns about how their comments make you feel. Communication is a key to any relationship. It will bring you closure that you tried to meet them where they are, and advocate for yourself.
Even if they aren’t open to what you have to say, you have tried your best to bridge the gap. Hopefully, your parents will respond in a kind and loving way.
However, there are times where people and relationships are toxic. Communicating in a healthy way with toxic people is probably not going to happen how you hope.
When this happens, you will have to try to draw respectful boundaries around your individuality. This can simply be saying “I will not allow you to compare me to so-and-so because it hurts me.
I have expressed this before and if you cannot respect me, I must remove myself from this conversation.” and then remove yourself from the situation. Drawing boundaries is always uncomfortable but the more you flex that muscle, the easier it gets.
Just because you may not be who your parents thought you would be, does not mean you are not worthy of love and respect.
Because you are worthy. You always have been.
If someone cannot treat you with respect or kindness, that is not your fault. That is theirs.
Comparing emeralds to sapphires is not fair. They are beautiful and incredible in different ways. Just like you.
At the end of the day, you deserve to be celebrated and loved for who you truly are- starting with you. Choose to hold a standard for how you speak to yourself.
Once we create the boundaries and standards for ourselves, it becomes easier to hold others to the same level of respect. I recommend daily affirmations and taking negative thoughts captive as you become aware of them.
We can’t control our parents, but we can control our thoughts and actions, as well as how we respond to them. You will never regret choosing kindness over the latter.
At the end of the day, responding with maturity to a situation will get you much farther than not. Sometimes people will commit to misunderstanding you because the reality does not fit their internal narrative. That is never your fault.
Remember, friend, it has less to do with you personally, and more to do with your parent’s own issues.
I hope you now have the confidence to reflect on why your parents are the way they are, and why they say the things they say. I hope that confidence follows you into healthy conversations, healthy boundaries, and loving yourself the way you have always deserved to be loved.