I have heard it many times over the years, “Didn’t my child make one too?” Or “What has my child done? I never see any of his work?”, and I have to tell you it disturbs me. The reason I find it disturbing is that it is based on comparison. Comparing one child to another is a way to create an idea of “normal” or “average”. I do understand the tendency to do this, I am a parent too. But comparing one person to another or a group is creating limitations for that person. And when it comes to children, limiting them is not the best way to promote growth. In addition to this we help reinforce much of what we don’t like about society. It leads to a competitiveness of individuals. This person is prettier than that person… Skinnier. Smarter. More successful. Better! By picking out a few “winners” we create a lot of “losers”. Judging each other in this way decreases individuality, and human diversity. And it’s fleeting. What passed for beauty or success today was different in the past and will be different in the future.
Think of what you do all day. If you didn’t have a pay check what would you have to show for what you did all week? Children are the same. Learning, socializing and honing skills don’t always have tangible results. These are highly valuable. Other’s do create but are not attached to their creation and store them away or give them away. I have received many myself.
So how do you measure success? Is it by productivity? Or self-confidence and contentment? What children grow up to be is unknown. We do our best to help them obtain the skills they will need to follow their dreams that are as of yet undreamed.
It’s hard being a parent. But I’m rather sure that we all would prefer our children to grow into respectful and considerate adults, doing some kind of work they enjoy or even love. That could be anything from a plumber to a stand-up comedian, from a entrepreneur to a social worker.
So, if you are secretly comparing your child to others, please keep it secret. Try not to let your limitations restrict your child’s freedom.
Robert Fischbeck is a Montessori practitioner from Norway. He is married and has 2 children. Rob has a diverse interest and has worked in wide variety of jobs, from a sewer worker to fish cleaner; from kitchens to preschools. He studied Montessori with Waterpark in Oslo and has been working at Bambini Montessoribarnehage in Hamar, Norway since 2004.