How to deal with comparisonitis

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The following is a guest post written by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez of Truly Rich Mom.

When my husband and I first started exploring the idea of homeschooling, we had only one child. He was around three years old then. Our family was based in East Timor, or Timor Leste, at the time, and we didn’t know anyone in our social circles who homeschooled.

The only information I could get about it was online (during the limited time I had Internet access every day). I’d spend this time Googling for homeschool preschool resources and saving the information and worksheets and whatnot I’d find so I could browse through everything later on.

It was exciting and daunting at the same time, but I believed that homeschooling our son was the best decision for us.

Fast forward to the present time. We have three kids now and, at the time of this writing, our eldest is turning seven soon. Our second is four and our youngest is almost five months old. We’ve been back in Manila for three years.

We’re still a homeschooling family but have dealt with lots of challenges and doubts along the road–one of the biggest of which I call “comparisonitis.”

It’s a “sickness” that I often find myself afflicted with — comparing myself or my kids, or our homeschooling methods, curricula and ways, or my kids’ milestones and achievements (the list can go on and on!), with others.

“Her kid started reading at 3, and mine only did so at 6! They have such a complete and organized homeschool room — we only do school in bed! Their kids enrolled in a brick and mortar school, but have better manners and better life skills than our son!”

And so on and so forth.

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Photo by RageZ

It can be a debilitating illness for sure.

So how do I deal with it? And how can you overcome it, too, if and when you need to?

Here’s what works for me:

1. Focus on what you have and be grateful for the life you’re living now.

Stop looking at “the other side of the fence” all the time and fix your eyes on the treasures you have in your own home - starting with your children. Be especially thankful that you have the privilege of homeschooling them (even if on some days it feels like more of a burden than a blessing).

2. Acknowledge the fact that every person is unique and develops differently.

At a local homeschool conference I attended a few years ago, veteran homeschooler and author Debra Bell said something I will never forget: Each child is wired differently by God to learn at his or her own pace.

Just as kids of the same age differ in their physical development (height, weight, etc.) so, too, do they differ in their educational development.

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Photo by Pratham Books

Just because your kid learns to read at 10 years old it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s “delayed.” Breathe in, breathe out, momma. She’ll learn her letters and numbers eventually, even if other kids her age are already reading four-word sentences and doing simple addition.

Education is not a race, and neither is childhood.

3. Do the best you can and on the days when you can’t, just keep on keeping on.

There will always be good and bad days, and everyone — yes, even the seemingly picture-perfect, Pinterest-worthy, super organized, makes-learning-look-fun-and-easy-all-the-time-complete-with-crafts homeschoolers (and non-homeschoolers) — has them.

You’re doing the best you can, and God knows you have your kids’ best interests at heart. So don’t give up. Don’t give in to your doubts and fears and feelings of not measuring up.

At the end of the day, I’ve found that the best “cure” for “comparisonitis” is a healthy dose of acceptance, a pill (or more) of patience with yourself and your children, and heaping amounts of chicken soup for your soul — made up of love, gratefulness and perseverance.

Remind me about this when I come down with comparisonitis again, OK?

Have you ever been afflicted with comparisonitis? How did/do you deal with it?

About Tina Santiago-Rodriguez

Tina and her husband, Anthony, used to be fulltime lay missionaries in Timor Leste, where two of their three kids were born. They discovered homeschooling when their eldest was still in utero, and have been teaching their kids at home ever since. Tina blogs about the riches of faith, family and life in general — including homeschooling — at Truly Rich Mom.

Comments

  1. Great post!! We all need help with this at one time or another!

  2. This is something I’ve always struggled with. I actually came across something that helps by accident. I was corresponding with a new homeschooler who was new to our state, and she asked me how we go about learning in our home. Well, I love talking and writing about our homeschool experiences, so she got a very longwinded response. As I was proofreading it, I consciously tried to put myself in her shoes as she reads it so that everything would be clear and understandable. After I was done reading it, I thought to myself, ”Wow! We sound pretty amazing!” That’s when it hit me how things always sound better when you’re reading or hearing about it. Sometimes the success isn’t so apparent when you’re actually living it. This is how I keep comparisons at bay now.

    • Thanks for the insights, Shelly! :) You’re right — I often get emails or messages from people who ask about homeschooling and when I end up sharing about what we do (or don’t, ha, ha!), I usually do end up thinking, “Well… we aren’t doing SO bad after all!” Thank you for the tip on how to keep comparisons at bay! Blessings to you and your family!
      Tina @ Truly Rich Mom’s latest post: One Verse, One Word, One Saint for 2014

  3. We don’t homeschool (I’m one of those people who just tries to after school a bit) but I love this post because it just goes to show that there isn’t a single area in life where we aren’t vulnerable to comparisonitis :-)
    Maggie’s latest post: Operation: Freezer Burn

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. Such simple tips and yet so effective. I too suffer from comparisonitis from time to time. I actually just touched on it in my last blog post. I have felt the pressures to “keep up” more than ever before. Like you I am trying to keep my perspective in house so to speak. Thank you for sharing. It is so nice to hear from another mama who faces similar challenges. Perhaps it goes with the stage. Our three children are 7, 3, and 17 months.
    Rita’s latest post: How Home School Has Worked Out So Far

    • Hi Rita! I read your latest blog post and can so relate to you! I am ALWAYS thinking that maybe we’d be better off unschooling! :) I left a comment on your blog. Yes, perhaps it is the stage or “season” that we’re in right now! Our kids are similar in age, except for the youngest. Cool! Blessings to you and your family! :)
      Tina @ Truly Rich Mom’s latest post: One Verse, One Word, One Saint for 2014

  5. It is a trap that is tricky to avoid, especially when you may already have doubts about something, only to hear someone else doing homeschooling “better.” I remind myself that we are always evolving and changing. I can look to others for inspiration, but we will never be them, and that’s exactly how I like it.
    Tracey’s latest post: Disdain

  6. I don’t think this “sickness” is a specifically home school one. Many, many parents compare their kids to others no matter where they are schooled.

  7. Such a good reminder!
    “Education is not a race, and neither is childhood.” This is one of the big reasons we’re homeschooling yet I still often find myself forgetting it’s not a race.
    Steph’s latest post: Lessons in Self-Care: Reflect

  8. I am so honored and humbled by everyone’s comments here and on the Simple Homeschool Facebook page! Thank you again, Jamie, for “having me over”! :) Blessings to you and your family!
    Tina @ Truly Rich Mom’s latest post: One Verse, One Word, One Saint for 2014

  9. Sounds like you were talking to me. I really needed this and thanks for the reminder. Great post!

  10. Thank you. Really Thank you. This issue of comparison is the thorn in my side for many a day, not just for homeschooling but with my own identity. God is working in me, teaching me about His truth and how He sees me. It’s so nice to browse my daily posts and read another confirmation.

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