The Comparison Trap

by Kate Fineske on March 8, 2012 · 8 comments

Coming SOON to a Theater Near You!


In the confines of a busy pediatrician’s waiting room,
OR within the crowded hallways of an after-school activity,
OR maybe at a park play date…

During a chance meeting that could (or could not) be filled with
a handful of new and/or “experienced” moms…

On any given day,
in any given spot,
with any given set group of people…

Watch out, IT will find you.

Anywhere. Anyone.
Because no one is completely immune from it.
No. One.

So watch out for:
The Comparison Trap.

The Comparison Trap Movie Poster

Friend vs. Friend.
Sister vs. Brother
Mom vs. Dad

Rated: R (for Ridiculous)

The Thickening Plot

Have you seen this “thriller” yet? Or have you been avoiding all of its hype?
Here, let me introduce you to the storyline.


The scene is a familiar one: A proud parent (as we’ve all been at some point or another) spies her own child doing something which simply amazes her. This parent then shouts it from a mountain top (or Facebook?):

“Hey, look! Everyone!
LOOK what my wonderful child has done!”

“My child won this award!”
“My child reached yet another milestone!”
“My child {You fill in the blank}

You’ve been there, right? I’ve definitely been there! As parents we have a right to be proud of our kids and sometimes we want the world to know.

Yet other times, we can also be the parent who is on the receiving end of another parent’s pride. And from the perspective of the parent who isn’t making these announcements, but instead is listening to them, sometimes my first instinctive response is…

Your child won that award… and my child didn’t.
(Yes, I will admit it. I have, one-too-many-times on occasion, fallen into that trap.)

The thing is, it can be so much easier to see what our kids (and ourselves?) aren’t doing, instead of focusing on what we are successfully accomplishing.

Welcome to: The Comparison Trap.

Conflict, Suspense, Emotion – It’s Got It All!

Critics everywhere are calling “The Comparison Trap” hard to ignore!

“The Comparison Trap has the perfect ingredients to capture anyone’s curiosity. It’s a thrilling, emotional, world-wide event that can ignite significant internal conflict and friction in even the most reasonable parent.”

Why? Because it can be really hard to not compare our own kids with others.
And yes, sometimes I too have fallen prey to it’s trap…

Lately the trap has snagged me as I struggled with watching my 2-year-old son who (although very responsive to communication) is still not talking.

Or at least not talking like other kids his age are
(And this is where the comparison trap has dragged me in!)

He babbles. (Believe me! He babbles on-and-on-and-on-and-on…)
He screams points and communicates in other ways.
He knows what others are saying to him.

Yet he doesn’t talk quite as well as many other kids his age. And, I’ll admit, this bothers me…
because everywhere I turn, all the other 2-year-olds I know are talking… in full sentences.

And (again) I find myself comparing his stages and milestones with others – even though I am fully aware that I shouldn’t.


Admission to join in on the Comparison Trap is FREE!

So join us, as we share the uncertainty that all parent’s go through when struggling to make the best decisions for their families.

Hang on to your seat as you watch mothers everywhere eventually learn (over and over?) that it is much more effective to unite together as parents then make comparisons with each other.

And stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion where you’ll witness the joy and excitement of many moms as they come to the realization that – Yes, every child, every human being, is their own unique individual – growing at their own pace, accomplishing (and not accomplishing) the things that are right for them.

And maybe (just maybe?) we will all walk away from this experience realizing that only we, have the power to escape this trap. The trap that is:

The Comparison Trap.

Coming soon to a theater near you. (I promise!)


Leave a Comment: Have you ever found yourself comparing your kid(s) with other people’s children? Or even comparing them to their siblings? How do you deal with the “Comparison Trap?” 

I am a staff member of the National Association of Mothers' Centers and a longtime member of the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. My husband and I are busy raising 3 children ages 4-11. I have a professional background as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, I have been using my professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions.
Kate Fineske
View all posts by Kate Fineske
Kate's website

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rose March 8, 2012 at 9:42 am

As a mother of 4 grown children I really enjoyed reading this one. Brings to mind all those Christmas letters that go on and on and on (which I have quit reading btw)
One of my absolute all time favorite Christmas cards was one we received years ago from a young couple-parents to three feisty boys. Two of the boys were crying and one was looking somewhere other than the camera in the Christmas portrait. The message was something like-”well, there you have it.” Loved it.

Take it from someone who has been through that whole comparison thing-we, as parents , gain so much from sharing our trials with each other. We all fall short, we all worry, we all have our days. Honesty and humor keep us bound together in our quest to the best for our kids.


Kate Fineske March 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I completely agree Rose! We definitely gain SO MUCH from sharing our trials and tribulations with other mothers. And love your last statement:

Honesty and humor keep us bound together in our quest to the best for our kids.

That is so very true!


Julie March 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I can so relate to this!! My almost 3 year old son NEVER EVER will partcipate in circle time, or story time, or pretty much any “time” that has a semblance of structure to it. It’s really easy to start comparing and feeling sorry for yourself when out of a room of 30 kids, yours is the only one in the YMCA gymnastics class still jumping in the ball pit and swinging on the bars, when every other kid is serenly sitting on mom and dad’s lap reciting the goodbye song and then calmly waiting in line for their stamp at the end to leave.


Kate Fineske March 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

Yep, exactly Julie! I’ve been in nearly the same situation with all three of my own kids! One thing that I noticed with all of them is that eventually, they ALL did learn and do what they were supposed to do – each kid just learned at at a different pace. Ultimately, sticking with each activity did end positively. Yet at times it was SO hard to stick through each activity! (Especially when I felt like the crazy mom chasing her kid around the room half of the time!) :)


Tatum March 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I’ve been on both sides of that fence, beaming with pride over an accomplishment or fretting about a milestone not yet met. It’s so hard not to get sucked into the comparison trap!

Though I admit, I tend to compare myself to other Moms (and women in general) more than I find myself comparing my daughter to other children. Everyone else just seems to be doing a better job balancing it all than I am.


Kate Fineske March 13, 2012 at 7:21 am

It just isn’t fair to compare yourself with other though Tatum! Everyone has different priorities, different schedules, different temperaments, and are at totally different points in their life. How good of a job your doing as a parent is really in the eyes of the beholder (you!).

I know, way easier said then done. But I personally have noticed that the more credit I give myself for “a job well done” in motherhood – the less I tend to compare myself with other mothers and notice other mothers’ balancing abilities. Believing I am doing a good job a MUCH as I can really goes a long way to taking myself out of the “comparison trap.”


SleeplessinSummerville March 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

I love how you put this. I really have tried to avoid this, and am somewhat successful, but when my child didn’t start talking at the same time other children did, it vexed me to no end. Didn’t help that my MIL thought it was “problem” that she could “fix” either!
It’s true. They’re all individuals (in my mind I hear “We’re all individuals!” whenever I say/think that) and we are too. The Comparison Game is just another way we spin our wheels.


Kate Fineske March 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Me too! I am with you when you say that you try really hard to avoid this! Most of the time I am successful in staying out of the comparison game. Yet, it definitely wouldn’t be accurate to say that I have never been there. I need a reminder every once in a while, which is kind-of what this blog post was – my way of reminding myself to “stay out of the game” and not to fall in that trap again.


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