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Mrs X had just shifted to a flat adjacent to ours. The earlier residents, a lovely couple had got transferred. After initial formalism for a few weeks we had started to mingle. Mrs X seemed to be a nice jovial lady and since they were new to the city or infact to this part of the country we helped them adjust. We both had daughters almost the same age and thus, even they became friends. My kid had got a new playying buddy. They were also going to the same school now, and her daughter being a bit younger was just one grade below mine.
Spending some time in the evening together...visiting each other...chit chatting on many things... ....children playing together....coming over for tea or dinner had become a regular feature. Intact we were happy to get good company. Her husband was also quite mature and learned.
All was well when I started to get more and more weary and irritated on her arrival. The reason for the same was her over comparing nature, specially where our kids were concerned. I have always believed in a theory that all kids are different. Also parenting styles are different too and "to each their own' is the best policy as far as kids are concerned. Things like physical features, or health or academic performance should be the last thing to be compared. Everyone is unique with a set of different abilities and shortcomings and as parents we need to nurture them into good humans. Each one is running his or her own race and each experience is exclusive. You really don't know what someone is facing so undue comparisons hurt. It is true that we don't live in an isolated world and how much so ever we avoid comparisons they are bound to happen on several accounts. Even if we don't do that consciously others do it and getting compared Sometimes is just unavoidable.
This doesn't mean that we stop mingling with people because as a parent we all are curious to learn new things.....share experiences...improve....and a bit of comparing is also essential to get to know where one stands amongst the rest of the crowd as believe it or not it is a fiercely competitive world out there and our children can't be shielding away from competing forever. Giving them a little taste of it sometimes is also a part of growing up as it should not come as a shock later. Specially in a country like ours where till date most of the people want their children to get into making sure shot and safe earning careers and giving competitions and even competing to get up the corporate ladder is the crude reality.
But as they say that everything has to be done in a right way and excess of any thing is bad so while Mrs. X and us were having a good time her comparisons were increasing by the day and that too many times in the presence of kids.
She was comparing them on their looks....health......... Behavior.... Number of activities they participated in... Academic performance in school etc.
Initially I was taking it in a stride but now it was getting on my nerves. Even my daughter had started getting upset and had started to develop a superiority complex on things in which she found aunty praising her and an inferiority complex on ones in which aunty was putting her down. I need to give an idea through some examples to make it more clear. Statements like...
Oh wow, see your daughter has a really fair complexion while mine is quite dusky na, what do you apply on her face to make her fair....I had never thought or professed or let my daughter feel great on her complexion but the aunty had started to put that in her mind.....she had started to feel great about it and I knew it was not a healthy thing to do...
Well your husband is so caring to drive your daughter to school sometimes while mine doesn't......least she knew that he did it as my daughter was down with viral many times and missed the bus...
Well see your daughter has scored well in just 2 subjects while mine has got A1 grade in all....I knew mine to not be a top grader but we never took it so badly till she made us realize this time and again...
Oh! Why don't you send your daughter to the sports class too. See mine does sports and swimming and painting while yours is just dancing.....well mine was doing the thing she wanted and I believed in making her good at one thing than getting her into 10...
I was unable to understand her intent and the reason why she was doing so. Why was she so unsure and insecure? It seemed she was not happy with certain things about her daughter, specially her complexion and wanted to assure herself by trying to make her best in everything else and even flaunting it to others and putting them down. I don't know what kind of psyche was this.... But it was negative and it made me uncomfortable.
Praising my daughter on one thing and putting her down at the same time in others was giving her some sort of satisfaction and assurance which was really upsetting now to us as a family.
I didn't know how to react and what had come over her. I was not liking this at all and I tried to avoid a discussion on kids but somehow it always came up. It worried me. Also I found both the kids getting badly affected. The one who was being praised for something got a superiority complex on the same while the other one starts feeling inferior. Even their friendship, which was full of fun and innocence was getting sour and they developed a kind of unwarranted jealousy and competitive feeling which leads to animosity.
Now, my daughter who had been carefree till now and was happily playing with hers no more wanted to play. She was also getting disturbed on being compared every time and though I was trying to explain it to her and not let her get much affected it was becoming difficult. After all they are kids and they listen to things and make opinions and believes.
In don't know if she realized this or not but it was affecting her child also badly. She was risking her into developing into her a wrong mentality. Publicly making her feel bad on her complexion (which according to me was not at all even a point to compare someone as this is the last thing that defines a person, specially a kid), would not do good to her.
I many times thought of giving her a piece of my mind but found avoiding and staying away the best policy. I didn't want to create direct animosity so slowly through small efforts like denying to go over to their place, excusing myself from any long discussion, a bit of avoiding, I got rid of too much mingling and slowly we stopped at just passing a smile.
Well, this had really happened with me and had taught me a good lesson to first know a person well and only after getting assured should one strike a friendship or any relation. Also, we all as parents want the best for our kids and are protective too so when someone like this (many times it is from family and close friends too) comes up and Start's too much comparison on kids it is better to start maintaining a distance. I am not a superstious person but such things create a lot of negativity and a negative aura which can harm your child. Also even though we may not be putting anything in their minds through which they consider themselves superior or inferior listening time and again this from people affects them negatively.
Thus, if you too are surrounded with such people may be from even close family or friends just try and take out some solution because the damage these things do is sometimes irreparable. Sometimes the relation is real close and can't be avoided so then it is better to directly make them understand. May be there is some tension created and you risk loosing a relation but in my opinion it is better for mental peace and a healthy upbringing of ones child.