When Your Kids Are Close In Age, The Struggle To Not Compare Them Never Ends
As the mother of two children close in age, I know a little about comparing kids and their development. Mine are 20 months apart and with every phase or milestone my second child has gone through, I’ve automatically thought back to how it went with his sister. I think it’s natural and normal as a parent to draw on your past experiences but sometimes, it causes undue anxiety. Rationally, I know every kid is different but when you’re only used to one thing, it can be hard to reconcile when it goes in a totally new direction the second time around. I thought this might draw to a close as my son got a little older and the baby milestones were over yet, I am still doing it. All that’s changed is what it is I’m comparing.
I’ve written before about how my kids are nothing like each other . They’re school-aged now and their starkly different personalities have never been more evident. My daughter is independent and outgoing — a bit of a perfectionist and an over-achiever. School has always come easily to her. She’s almost done with second grade and not only has she hardly ever needed help with her homework, she has yet to bring home a spelling test that isn’t a 100 whether we’ve gone over the words with her or not. My husband and I apparently took for granted how fast she learns and how much she enjoys school because it’s an entirely different story with our son.
While our daughter eagerly sits down to complete her homework without being asked by us, our son fights it with every fiber of his being. Doing his homework with him each week is a torturous exercise. He is smart — he is well-spoken, has a great memory and enjoys talking about any variety of subjects. However, when it comes time to do homework or practice reading, he shuts down. He is a bit of a perfectionist too but where it seems to drive our daughter to do well at all costs, his reaction is to stop trying if something isn’t coming easily. His kindergarten year has proven very difficult in that respect.
We know his knowledge is up to grade level and we’ve had conversations about his mental road blocks with his teacher. She says she sees his impatience with sitting down to do school work in a lot of boys his age (he is a June birthday, relatively young) and that with time, his attitude toward homework and reading should improve. It’s reassuring to hear and we know he is probably going to be fine over the coming years but it’s still hard to deal with at times. When I see my daughter happily reading a chapter book a few grade levels above her own and can barely get my son through a couple of sentences without him getting upset and stomping off, the old urge to compare rears it’s ugly head.
I know this is nowhere near the end of the road as far as comparing my kids and that these things will keep coming up as they grow older but I’d like to think it will get easier to remember that no two kids are alike, even kids from the same family. They will both always have strengths and weaknesses and it’s our job as parents to treat them as individuals. To nurture their strong points and help them work with the things that don’t come so easily. Comparing is a futile endeavor and I’m going to keep working toward not doing it. For everyone’s sake.