Hello, my friends. The big holidays are coming up (yes, our next two issues will be about Halloween 🎃👻🐈⬛) which means two things: 1) lots of classroom parties and 2) lots of parents who seem to have at least 7 more hours in the day than the rest of us to hand-pipe each kid’s name on a Rice Krispies Treat for this year’s harvest festival.
If you’re like me, this is the time of year you’re most susceptible to the dreaded parent comparison. Suddenly, the homemade costumes we sewed for weeks don’t measure up to the custom piece from the local stage production of Moana that another kid donned at school.
Today, let’s banish those thoughts of comparison and learn to celebrate our own unique parenting styles and achievements.
The Sneakiest Thief of Them All
Well all know it, and Shawn recently reminded me: “Comparison is the thief of joy,” she said.
And no matter how fiercely we guard our joy, comparison creeps in from time to time. It can be hard to escape, what with social media, Laura Dern’s turn as Marmee in Little Women, and rose-colored memories of our own upbringings. At my house, I get the old “JoJo had chips for snack again. Everyone gets chips and I have Goldfish or pretzels! I want chips!”
Expectations are everywhere.
When you wean from breastfeeding. What you wear to the neighborhood party. Where your kid goes to college. They’re all decisions ripe for that specific brand of subtle shaming we probably all know too well. But Shawn’s words echo in my head—comparison is the thief of joy.
And with so many forces working against joyousness in this world…it’s time we all do the mental work to shut off our comparison-prone inner monologue, celebrate our families for their uniqueness, and follow our intuition toward what works best. Here’s how to start →
Remember—it’s a highlight reel
“It’s so hard,” Shawn said. “Especially on Instagram where everyone paints their parental lives perfectly.” For real—my Hocus Pocus 2 party looked nothing like what my Explore Page told me it should.
But so much of what we see on social media is curated for the ‘gram or for the sake of entertaining 90 million TikTok users. So it’s on us, every time we scroll, to root ourselves in reality and remember that even Kim Kardashian, with her nannies and entourage, has likely at one time spent 20 minutes locked in the bathroom crying because her kids are acting crazy.
We all strive for parenting perfection, but we’re after something that doesn’t exist. The best thing you can do for your parenting psyche (and in turn, your family) is to turn off the perfectly edited social media Momfluencers—and if you feel like it, devote those follows to people who show the real parts of life, and all walks of it (we have some ideas).
I asked my own mom if she ever felt the pressure of comparison during her pre-social media parenting journey. For her, it was more about the friends and family in her (real) life. And while comparison was tough to escape, she did rely on the experiences and opinions of people around her whom she respected. Comparison—and its biggest advantage: crowdsourced parenting—has been around for…well, probably since the beginning of time.
Practice your parenting confidence
There is no one who will love your family harder than you and no one who knows them better. Learning to trust yourself and your intuition will boost your parenting confidence—which means less comparing yourself to others.
But confidence is a muscle: You have to train it if you want it to get stronger. Try making positive self-talk part of your daily routine or sitting quietly for 10–15 minutes before making any major parenting decision to listen to your gut.
Shawn leaves us with this bit of wisdom: “You are the best parent for your child, and no one else,” she said. “And you’re going to parent your child differently than any other parent.”
Class is in session! ICYMI, Shawn and Andrew have teamed up with potty training expert Allison Jandu to create a realistic, flexible course for families who are ready (or nearly ready) to begin their potty training adventure. It has received the incredibly official Drew East stamp of approval, so you know it’s good. Find out if your toddler is ready by taking our quiz. Already know it’s time? Jump right in here.
10 ways to connect with adult children. If you’re the parent of adult kids, this list from Leslyn Kantner on TikTok starts with “don’t judge.” A common theme in today’s newsletter!
Cozy right up. What is it about fall that makes us want to stay home and hibernate with a book? As a formerly-avid reader turned exhausted mama, I am making an effort this season to read more, starting with these highly anticipated books.
Thanks for hanging with me. I think you’re great and your family, in all its uniqueness, is too. Have a fabulous week!