What do you do when you have more than one daughter? Helping siblings with comparison can be tricky business. Read this great post from my friend Lisa on what she’s learning with her two girls…
Everywhere I take my daughter I hear it. “She looks just like you.” “Wow, she is your mini-me.” “You two could be twins!” (Okay, not that last one. My daughter is 10 and I’m 38. No one could actually mistake us as the same age.)
It’s hard for me to see the resemblance. I think she looks more like my husband’s side of the tree. We do share the same dark, brown hair and olive complexion. Our cheekbones sit up high and our mouths are unquestionably similar. It’s certainly a boost to one’s ego to hear that your beautiful daughter looks just like you. I smile and throw out a quick, “Aww…Thank you!” to acknowledge the compliment.
During most of these encounters we have another set of little ears nearby. At six, my younger daughter is blonde and light complected. Yet, she’s started making comments about wanting to have brown hair like the rest of us. Or, being the “only one” with blonde hair in our family.
It’s too early to tell if she’ll spend her adult life in therapy, but I can’t help but worry about how the comparisons are affecting her. I encourage her that blonde hair is special too. But sometimes, it’s hard to know what to say. To help soothe her odd-man-out feelings, I’ve even promised to, someday, “go blonde.” (Heaven help my hair!!)
I never considered the possibility that I would have a blonde child. My husband and I are both brunettes who tan at the mere mention of sun. As genetics would have it, though, we were graced with our little light-skinned, freckled blondie. And, I was thrilled! I can’t count the number of times I wished for…hoped for…dreamed of being a blonde when I was a young girl. Don’t they have more fun? Aren’t blondes the popular girls? The beauty queens and movie stars? I realize those are mostly just stereotypes, but I couldn’t help but be a little giddy that my own prodigy could test them.
Then I wonder: Could my young daughter already falling into the comparison trap, a place where it’s hard to see her own uniqueness as good?
That night, as we were getting ready for bed, my youngest asked me to pull out my flute. We all piled onto the comforter and each girl took a turn at holding it and playing with the keys. Then it happened. I decided it was the perfect time to give an impromptu lesson on how to play a note. In musical terms, the key to making sound is called the embouchure–or, the manner in which the lips and tongue are applied to the mouthpiece. Though it’s tricky, I was a natural. Yet, my mini-me, the one with the exact same mouth, the same lips, could not do it. I spent the next ten minutes, trying every tip I knew. This produced not sound, but a defeated little girl.
Only one thing could have made her even more frustrated with the challenge–watching her little sister pick it up as easily as I had. Though I was excited that my little blondie may be inclined to follow in her mother’s instrumental footsteps (and she was pleased to FINALLY one-up her big sister!), I realized that once again my girls were getting caught in that comparison trap.
I have two daughters. Both beautiful and each vastly unique in her talents and abilities. One happens to look like me and one who doesn’t (although my mom makes a fierce argument that little sissy is my actual miniature, sans the blonde hair). As their mother, I’m charged with protecting them, teaching them, molding and shaping them. How do I fight this ugly comparison battle at times when the differences are so obvious?
The answers begin with me. This is a battle that I fight. How often do I compare MYSELF to other women? OUCH. Is my house decorated as lovely as her’s? Am I as cute as that 20-something mom cuddling her infant? Is the education I’m giving my girls as complete as that other homeschooling mom?
If I look to myself to win this battle I will fail every. single. time. If my girls spend their lives striving to live up to comparisons they, too, will fail. And, that’s the catch.
I’m learning that this isn’t about building self-esteem. My girls are not defined by their hair color or musical ability, just like I’m not defined by the HGTV-worthiness of my home or brilliant homeschooling abilities. If we seek to build our identity in any of these attributes we’ll always want for more, better, or different.
Instead, I must daily seek to find my identity in Christ and remove comparison from my own life. That’s the example I hope to set for them. I pray that they would know that Christ IN them means they are bigger than any of this world’s labels.
Lisa Beegle is a Jesus-loving, kettle corn-popping, homeschooling mama to two girls and wife to one pretty cute fellow. She loves Dr. Pepper, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream and her home state of Texas. Her dream is to travel the world with her family and to one day appear on Wheel of Fortune.