- Parents comparing their children to other children has been done for millennia.
- And honestly, saying that parents have been doing this since the dawn of man is probably not very far from the truth.
- But why do we do it? Why do we feel the need to constantly compare our children to others, who then repeat the same cycle with their kids?
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why does my mom compare me to others?” you should know that you are not alone in this. Millions of children ask this question every day, including parents who are compared to other parents, by their own parents.
Parents usually do this because they see this comparison as a good thing that they believe can motivate their children to do better. And while they might be right to an extent, for the most part, it can cause some psychological and emotional damage that will take a while to fix, if ever.
It is honestly a human thing to compare. Even parents with the best intentions will compare their children to others every once in a while. The problem arises when this is done consistently, with an approach that can only make the child feel worthless.
Some of the approaches used by parents include:
- Setting relatively impossible standards and then increasing them further on the off chance that you achieve them.
- Making you feel guilty about not reaching the standards they set by reminding you of what they do for you.
- Badmouthing you to others so that you are constantly trying to get better to improve your reputation.
- Hurling insults at you to make you feel worthless and less valuable than others.
All of these approaches are frowned upon by experts because of the psychological problems that they can cause, such as low self-esteem and insecurity.
Indeed, a poll by Fitrated showed that comments by mothers are the third-highest reason why insecurities were first provoked. Wanna bet that how many of those comments were related to comparisons?
So why do parents do this, and what can you do to ensure that you aren’t too affected by it? That’s what we intend to help you out with.
8 Reasons why your mom is comparing you to others
- Misguided love
If your mom is always comparing you to people, it might be out of a place of love. She wants you to be the best you can be and uses other people as a benchmark to show you that you have great potential.
It’s likely that she doesn’t see this as abuse but rather providing you with external motivators. This is most likely the case if she is kind to you in other aspects of parenting but still compares you to others. It’s simply another way she shows love, albeit in a misguided way.
- It’s a human thing
Sometimes the answer to why parents compare their child to others is simply because it is our nature to do so as humans. We are a competitive species, which allowed us to evolve to where we are today.
Humans have an inherent need to be better than the next person for the most part, and this might be why your parents compare you – so you can be better than the competition.
This doesn’t make the comparison right, though, because we shouldn’t have to compete in every aspect of human life. People are diverse and have their own talents and pace at which they develop, so comparing to others most times isn’t fair.
- She has a controlling nature
There’s a chance that your mother compares you to others because she has a compulsive need to control your lifestyle and choices. In comparing you to others, she is trying to get you to behave in a certain way that fits her plans for you.
A sign that a parent is comparing their child to others because they want to control them is when the comparison is made to children who are more obedient to their parents. By telling you that you should be more like those children, they are telling you to allow them to control you more.
- Insecurities about failure
There aren’t many mothers who don’t want their children to grow up to be successful, and sometimes they express this by comparing their children to others who are more successful.
When she says, “I wish you could pass more of your classes like Sandra,” that might be her saying – in a terrible way – that she wants you to be academically successful.
Mothers will especially do this if they feel like they made mistakes growing up, which they want you to avoid. Suppose you want to know why your mother expects you to behave like others. In that case, it might be because she worries about the future and is becoming toxic in doing so.
- Fear of being seen as a failure
It’s no secret that a huge part of the way a child turns out is due to their upbringing. Mothers know this, and some react to it by trying to make their children as successful as possible so that their parenting skills will not be called into question.
Essentially, she is comparing you because she is worried about society’s perception of her instead of your perception of her.
It’s quite ironic because in trying to be the best parents, mothers who do this end up damaging their kids instead, which is something bad parents do.
- It’s how she was raised
Why does your mom compare you to others? It might be because that was how she was raised and doesn’t know better. Her mother probably compared her to others, and her mother might have been compared to others as well.
The funny thing is that parents are usually less lenient versions of their parents, so your mom might have had it much worse than you did. The lesson here is that your mom might be acting based on childhood trauma and because you are now aware of it, you have the chance to be better to your children than she was to you.
- Resentment from having to compete for love
Children usually have a parent that gives them more attention than the other. This can elicit resentment in the other parent if the attention being given to the child leads to less attention being given to them.
While this is not as common as the rest, experts say that it might be a reason why your mom compares you to others. It has also been noted that this is especially prevalent in mother-daughter relationships.
A sign of this happening is that you have a better relationship with your father than your mother and generally spend more time with him. Therefore, comparing you to others is your mother’s way of lashing out, even if she doesn’t know it.
Check out How to Make Your Parents Love You Again.
- She has a mental illness
Your mother might know that the little voice in her head telling her, “don’t compare your child to others,” is right, but she can’t help it because she has an undiagnosed mental illness that compels her to do so.
Studies show that a parent with mental issues that aren’t being treated can create an emotionally taxing environment for a child to grow in. These comparisons might be one way this happens.
While we aren’t saying this is why your mother compares you to others, it might be worth checking for symptoms of mental issues if the comparison seems irrational and borderline toxic.
5 Ways to deal with the comparison
- Accept the comparison
As a way to turn the tables on your mother, you should tell her that you agree with the comparison and even admire the person you are being compared to. For instance, “You’re right mom, Brian really is a great lawyer, and I respect him for it.”
This robs her of the power she feels when she sees her words affecting you and instead shows her that you have accepted who you are as a person.
- Come up with your own standards
If you don’t have your own metrics by which you judge yourself, words of comparison will, more often than not, be hurtful to hear.
Think about your long-term plan, the things you want to do, and when you want to have done them by. Think about your strengths and what you can do to improve on them.
Knowing where you want to go in life will help you avoid being affected when your mother compares you with someone else. Why? Because you will be able to remind yourself that you are on a different path than the person you are being compared with.
- Talk to her about it
Most mothers don’t want to see their children hurt, so there is a chance that telling her, “stop comparing me to others,” might work out. To do this, approach and timing are very important. Some things to keep in mind are:
- Talk to her sometime after the comparison when you are both calm enough to engage in conversation.
- Bring up specific instances where she has compared you to others, which hurt you.
- Remind her that you are a different person from your “competition.”
- Suggest that she compare you to your past self and not others if she wants to see improvement.
- Repeat this talk several times because once might not be enough.
Check out Things to Tell Yourself to Boost Self-esteem.
- Look for the truth in the comparison
Sometimes the comparison is a terrible way for your mother to point out ways you could improve yourself. While comparison can be infuriating, don’t get so angry that you miss the underlying message that she is sending.
After the comparison has been made and you have calmed down, ask yourself if she had a point and if there is indeed a way you can improve yourself. For instance, if she’s asking why you can’t study as hard as her friend’s daughter does, use that as motivation to improve in your studies so that you can be a better you.
- Put some distance between yourselves
If the comparison is persistent and has grown quite toxic over a long period, and you have spoken to her severally about it, and there is still no change, it might be time to protect your peace by giving your mother some space.
Reduce contact with her, and if she brings this up, don’t be shy in telling her that your actions were deliberate to protect your peace.
This suggestion is mostly applicable to adults as they can decide not to live with their mothers. For those stuck with their mothers as their primary caregiver, consider putting her in a home or reaching out to a therapist to advise you further.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do when your mom compares you to others?
- Tell her that it hurts you when she does so.
- Come up with your own performance standards to judge yourself.
- Tell her that you admire the people she compares you to and agree that they are doing well.
- Talk to her about how her behavior is hurtful every time it happens but not immediately. This will give you time to calm down.
- Look for the truth in the comparison and use it as fuel to improve yourself.
Is it OK to compare your child to others?
Experts generally believe that it isn’t right to compare your children to others as it can lead to insecurity, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other psychological issues. While it is understandable that you want your child to improve, you’ll be damaging them in the long run if you encourage them to improve by comparing them with others.
Rather, it is best to motivate your child by comparing their present to where they were in the past. And when you identify areas they need improvement in, talk them through it by advising them on how they can get better.
Why does my mom always compare me to my friends?
Some reasons this may happen include:
- She’s doing it out of misguided love.
- She has a need to feel in control of you and your decisions.
- She worries about your future.
- She worries about how others will see her if you don’t perform “up to standard.”
- It is how she was raised.
There are several reasons why your mom could be comparing you with others but what matters is how you respond to it. If you don’t find a way to manage it, it could create psychological problems for you or, worse, pass it on to the next generation.
We hope the tips provided will help, and if they aren’t, don’t be afraid to try therapy. Thanks to the internet, it is way more accessible now, and therapists can offer relevant help based on your specific situation.
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