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AIBU?

To feel sad when I compare my kids with other children...

390 replies

aseekingseeker · 19/01/2024 08:39

This is, I appreciate, a very sensitive subject. I love my children, more than anything, but I'm finding it increasingly sad and frustrating that they don't seem to want to do as well as they could do, or go the extra mile.

I also realise that this is most definitely a First World Problem but we have very close friends, including children at similar ages and two of their 3 kids go to the same school as my children (aged 15 and 11). I know you can't know for sure, but we have shared lots of info so I know that our children are of a similar intelligence but theirs just seem to want to go the extra mile and excel. Their kids work so, so hard, and are always perfectly behaved and turned out. I know comparing like this never does any good but I just can't help it.

My two kids attend an academic school and are doing very well, but never quite excelling. My youngest, in particular is very, very bright and would easily score highly without any revision. We do encourage working hard and revising but they have so far not been to pick up the prizes at the end of the year, I think, because both kids have a 'bare minimum' stance when it comes to homework (to be fair, I don't think they care about prizes, it's me, but I just don't get why they wouldn't care - that's what gets me). They both have very high predictions but don't work enough or in the right way to hit these targets. I've always been trying to get involved but they're very much 'we want to do it our way'.

Neither of my two want to go to extracurriculars such as creative writing, debating, politics etc etc. They dabble in sport.

The other family (and in fact we know two) basically have 3 kids who ALWAYS go the extra mile, who are ALWAYS polite (I don't think in the ten years we've known them, these kids have ever put their foot wrong or lost their temper), who ALWAYS look smartly turned out, not a shirt ever needed to be tucked in (unlike my two!).

I know these kids well and they are clearly bright but, honestly, I don't think smarter than our kids (or others in their respective year groups) but they work so, so hard and achieve accordingly - all three of them! Basically across the board. If their mum asks them to go to a club or do something, they do it. They don't watch telly and certainly don't do gaming/phone in the week. I don't think they have time tbh as they work so hard.

Don't get me wrong, my children are generally polite (to others at least) and we have lots of fun, but I continually get push back, especially from the eldest who is very much turning into a 'teenager'.

I just wish I could bottle what the other family are doing. I do feel I have 'failed' in some respects and although I love the other families, I sometimes wish had friends who were less 'perfect'. I know that's probably completely U-N-R-E-A-S-O-N-A-B-L-E.

For context, the other family have a couple of teacher grandparents (on either side), including a secondary teacher in STEM, who are very involved with their grandkids and do most of the after-school care as both parents are working. So I'm sure there is something in that which helps but it can't be everything. And it's not a 'cultural' thing either; nor is it a family that use threats etc, they're super calm.

What am I doing wrong?

How do I make my children WANT to work hard, look smart etc (both DH and I dress smartly and care how we are turned out, and we both work hard - including when we were at school - although I work p/t during school hours).

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

1240 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
90%
You are NOT being unreasonable
10%
StopTheBusINeedAWeeWeeAWeeWeeBagOChips · 19/01/2024 08:45

You have kids who are doing very well, who are pretty nice kids, who are mostly polite, doing sports, and you're complaining because your friends kids are better?

We parent the kids we have, it's our job to support who they are, not force them to be who we want them to be.

It sounds like you just want bragging rights with your friends (who are probably exaggerating tbh).

WhenWereYouUnderMe · 19/01/2024 08:47

I have a teenager who is unable to attend school due to her ASD. I find it really hard to see the girls she went to primary school with merrily living their lives, achieving things, enjoying hobbies. I can't clearly see what the future will hold for her right now.

Your kids are doing just fine at school. I'd be pretty grateful for that tbh.

Evaka · 19/01/2024 08:47

Tread carefully OP. These thoughts are so damaging to kids. My mother could have written this in the 90s. We still have a relationship but it's strained and we all know we were never good enough for her and still take the piss about all the families she compared us to. You might think you're protecting your kids from your inner thoughts but it's likely to be embarrassingly obvious.

MeandBobbyMcGoo · 19/01/2024 08:49

I'd find other kids to compare yours to. Your kids sound pretty happy and balanced. After school, very little clubs count. I've not had to whip out my clarinet in a board meeting yet.

WhenWereYouUnderMe · 19/01/2024 08:49

Also who are all of these teens who don't watch TV or look at their phones?! Are they unicorns? I don't believe it; your jealousy is getting the better of you here.

aseekingseeker · 19/01/2024 08:49

@StopTheBusINeedAWeeWeeAWeeWeeBagOChips No, not bragging rights. I guess, having been very driven myself and wanting to do well (but not being a goody so and so), I just don't know why neither of mine are I suppose.

OP posts:
WandaWonder · 19/01/2024 08:50

Why can't you just love your kids for who they are? They are not what is in your head they are real people

Think about it and think how you would feel if you were them

aseekingseeker · 19/01/2024 08:50

@WhenWereYouUnderMe They do, but I've never seen them be on them for hours like our kids and most of our other friends.

OP posts:
aseekingseeker · 19/01/2024 08:51

@Evaka Very good point, maybe I don't conceal it. I hope I do, but I think you're right.

OP posts:
Meadowfinch · 19/01/2024 08:51

You are being very unreasonable. You admit your children are doing well, so stop comparing them.

Children develop at different rates and they have different personalities and interests. They aren't you.

I went to a highly academic grammar school, but was a mid-class performer. Yet when I went to a school reunion after 20 years I found that a good proportion of the bright stars had gone off the rails or were working part time or not working at all. I have a successful career etc. I never wanted to join the debating team or anything like that.

Limit yourself to encouraging them, but don't nag or you risk turning them off learning altogther. Give them access to new experiences - music, sports, arts etc - but at 11 & 15 it is their choice, not yours.

And I doubt your friend's children are perfect - that's just what you see as an outsider.

loadedchips · 19/01/2024 08:52

Comparison is the thief of joy

Escapetunnelalmostcomplete · 19/01/2024 08:53

The issue here is not with your DC. You need to stop with the comparisons. You are really lucky to have DC who sound like they find school work easy. Ultimately if they get 6's or 9's in their GCSE's it will make little difference to their lives. Likewise being smart is not that important as long as they are comfortable in their own skins. Try to accept that your DC are their own people, and have their own strengths. What is massively important to you, may well not be to them and that is OK.

Dalriadanland · 19/01/2024 08:54

I think your post is terribly selfish and you should reflect on that. Perfectionism is a terrible thing to pass down to a child.

chocopop123 · 19/01/2024 08:54

Your kids sound pretty typical, certainly mine are the same. My youngest is bright but has done very little revision for GCSEs and does homework as quickly as possible. My eldest was even worse; didn't even bother doing most of the homework. Neither would stay for anything extra curricular and they just wanted to go home.
You can't control how much effort your children make, you can only advise them. And what is important to you might be less important to them.
For what it's worth, my eldest changed his stance in sixth form and now has a first class degree and an excellent job.

SKG231 · 19/01/2024 08:55

Some people just aren’t wired to constantly want to push themselves and be the best and “win” everything and that’s ok.

as you said, they’re bright and they’re doing ok! They could be skipping school, getting into trouble with the police and doing drugs.

I would of course have a few chats leading up to exams and letting them know that you’re proud of them and everything they do whilst at the same time reminding them that they are so capable and any extra revising, clubs etc they do leading up to exams will help them in the next stage of their lives.

comparison really is the thief of joy. Yes your friends children may push themselves academically but for all you know they could be miserable at home! The best lesson we can teach our children is to be good, kind, people who aim to be happy in life. They will figure out on their own how they will achieve that and there is always time to stay on/re do things in education etc.

theduchessofspork · 19/01/2024 08:55

Your kids sound fine. Getting through school decently well is important. But winning the debating society prize is not a particular marker of future success.

Wanting adolescent children to grab opportunities is fair enough, but a lot of what you say, and your obsession with this family, is not.

Focus on getting them to develop as people by building their interests. Remember that standard teen behaviour is innate and does pass.

Letspretendweareallcool · 19/01/2024 08:55

I know what you mean.
I've met people that were obviously really driven from a young age to excel, regardless of their personal circumstances, maybe something to do with high emotional intelligence.

Beezknees · 19/01/2024 08:56

Just let them be for goodness sake. Your children don't have to be carbon copies of you. It's awful when parents try to push their own ideals on their children.

Evaka · 19/01/2024 08:56

I'm glad you're taking this on board. I can imagine it's hard to let go if you were very driven yourself but they're different people. And if they're bright, do fine and also know how to chill it's a great combo! FWIW, my two siblings and I are are conventionally very successful now anyway despite being crap at extracurriculars and our mum thinking we weren't trying hard enough.

TheYearOfSmallThings · 19/01/2024 08:56

Have you had the other kids in for a playdate?
I always end up mentally apologising to my son for negative comparisons when I spend significant time with his friends Grin

Basically good enough is good enough. Find out what they are genuinely interested and let them pursue that, and as long as they are keeping up in school they will be fine.

Jenry · 19/01/2024 08:56

My child is like yours. It frustrates me at times as they could achieve so much more if they put in more work. But I have accepted that they’re doing fine and at least happy and well adjusted. I do constantly nag about revision, self improvement etc but I hope they know I’m proud of the person they’ve become as well not just achievements. They are kind, thoughtful, kind to animals which is to me actually very important and I try and tell them so regularly. I do worry they’re naturally a bit lazy so will underachieve but try and keep it in perspective.

NewYearTimeToChange · 19/01/2024 08:57

I think some kids burn bright when young and achieve little as adults, others are slow burners. If your DC are happy, well rounded and doing ok you need to stop and appreciate this.

theduchessofspork · 19/01/2024 08:57

aseekingseeker · 19/01/2024 08:49

@StopTheBusINeedAWeeWeeAWeeWeeBagOChips No, not bragging rights. I guess, having been very driven myself and wanting to do well (but not being a goody so and so), I just don't know why neither of mine are I suppose.

Because that’s not how they are.

It might well change as they get older, so focus on building their strengths for now.

Seeline · 19/01/2024 08:57

The other kids don't sound very normal at all.

Yours do.

Bright kids at this age often cannot see the point if working hard - they don't need to so why should they? If there are no complaints from school let them enjoy their lives!

Stop comparisons - they never end well. That's comparing them with other kids as well as your DH and you. They are people in their own rights, not mini-you!

theduchessofspork · 19/01/2024 08:58

aseekingseeker · 19/01/2024 08:51

@Evaka Very good point, maybe I don't conceal it. I hope I do, but I think you're right.

I am sure you don’t.

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