In your family, do you ever hear questions like these?
- "Why can't you clean your room like your brother William does?"
- "Why can't you make good grades like Sylvia?"
- "Why can't you get the ball down the field like Lisa?"
Sometimes, saying stuff like this is an adult's way of encouraging you to try a little harder. Other times, an adult may not even realize he or she is comparing you to your sibling. When you hear these comparisons over and over, it can really sting. You may even start doing the very thing you're being criticized for, like making bad grades or being messy, because it gets you noticed!
The bottom line is this: comparing two different kids can be like comparing apples and oranges. We may be in the same family, but that doesn't mean we like the same foods, read the same books, or have the same talents. So, it makes sense that our siblings are going to be better at some things than we are.
Although your parents should have the right to motivate you and expect you to try your best, you should help them understand that constantly holding you up to your brother or sister is totally hurtful.
Here are some examples of how to handle unfair comparison to a sib:
Parent: "Why can't you clean your room like your brother William does?"
You: "Hey, I'm not William. William likes his things in a certain order. Being neat is one of my problem areas, just like William keeps forgetting to call you when he's running late."
Parent: "Why can't you make good grades like Sylvia?"
You: "Sylvia does make good grades, but I think my grades are good for me. I may not get all A's, but I try as hard as I can and I think that's all you can ask me to do. I don't like it when you compare me to Sylvia like that."
Parent: "Why can't you get the ball down the field like Lisa?"
You: "I only play soccer to see my friends, and I don't care about winning like Lisa does. What I really like is working on my Web page. I would really like to find a Web design class after soccer season is over."
It takes courage to talk about your feelings this way, but it's your right to express yourself, and your parents want to know how you feel. The more you speak up, the easier it will get!
Next: Do you know the difference between Fair and Equal?