As a parent, I’ve learned a lot, but one of the many things with which I still struggle is the parent vs. parent struggle.
It’s the comparison game.
It’s funny because I thought I had a hard time responding to stuff like, “How’s your daughter doing in school? “Joe” was honor roll last quarter!”
I did, I mean, I do still have a hard time responding to this kind of inquiry.
But that’s not it. I feel like what I’m struggling with is at the other end of the continuum.
I feel like I’m competing against other parents who are parenting children who have experienced trauma.
The good news is that I’m losing, or winning, depending on how you measure things.
I checked in with a number of adoptive parent friends recently and other parents online who are parenting children like Hope.
They’re struggles seem so much worse than mine.
Hope doesn’t have the same kind of tantrums.
She doesn’t really rage.
She doesn’t really lie much.
She doesn’t sneak out.
She doesn’t act out physically.
She’s got emotional issues, but they don’t trigger some of the dramatic behaviors I’ve heard about.
Comparatively speaking, I come away from some of these interactions thinking, what exactly is it that’s hard about raising Hope? I mean, why do I get upset? Hope is not doing any of those things.
Maybe I’m making mountains out of molehills.
I find myself minimizing the things Hope and I do struggle with.
So many kids have ADHD!
All teenagers pushback and go through phases where they don’t do what they are told.
Some kids are just so immature for their ages.
I began to think that in the game of therapeutic parenting I’m totally disqualified because we haven’t got the same problems as other parents. How dare I think our problems are comparable to other parents who are struggling to parent kids with profound grief and trauma!
Gosh this is silly, right?
Of course, sometimes I torture myself by thinking I’m lucky that Hope doesn’t act out the way other kids do. How great is it that we haven’t had to go through some of that stuff! Then I feel guilty because it minimizes what I know goes on in Hope’s head and heart, and how that affects us each and every day of our lives together.
In sport parenting, I don’t win or lose, and frankly, I’m not sure which one is which. The other things I often find myself wondering is: Why the devil am I trying to compare our experiences to that of other families anyway?
We’ve all got our own drama, and we all tend to have a lot of it. Why would it all look the same?
And apparently, how I feel about what Hope and I endure seems to be similar to that of other parents…people tell me so. There’s an emotional similarity there. Even if the drama appears different the emotional upheaval is the same.
So, why do I still pull out a yard stick to assess how we’re doing compared to other families? Is this even natural behavior? Is sport parenting really a thing?
Are we always assessing how we measure up in our own parenting fantasy?
I don’t know.
I do know that I’m going to try to quit sport parenting in 2017.