Comparing Families

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Just recently, my friend Nikki (not her real name) was telling me about her cousin’s baby who was suffering with reflux. Nikki and her cousin had babies at approximately the same time. Nikki told me that her cousin was especially upset that her baby was crying and screaming all of the time, and it seemed that Nikki’s baby was such a “good baby.” The situation had even gotten to the point where Nikki didn’t really want to connect with her cousin, because of the constant comparisons between the two babies and families.

    What Nikki’s cousin was experiencing can be a typical response. Sometimes when your own baby or child isn’t feeling well, it can seem like every other family has it so easy compared to your family. It can even appear as if the other families you know are just gliding through life, while your family seems to be struggling through each day and night.
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    But while it may be tempting when things aren’t going well to compare your family to other families, I strongly caution against it, and this is the reason why. Family scholars can’t even agree on the definition of “family,” let alone how families and households differ. In other words, as much as we think we know what is going on with another family, most of the time we really don’t know. Things may look pretty smooth on the surface for all the other families you know, but that is usually only part of the picture. Be assured that just because another family’s baby is eating birthday cake and sleeping 14 hour stretches, it doesn’t mean that same family isn’t facing other serious challenges that you just aren’t aware of.

    In the long run, having a baby with reflux will allow your family to quickly learn one of life’s realities: Parents cannot fix everything. This is a lesson all families, even those with healthy children, will eventually share. Problems are a natural part of life – no other children or families are ever problem free. It is only a matter of time until other families you know with “perfect babies” will discover this life lesson.

    Just think. Because your family has already had to face multiple challenges, you and your family have the advantage of being early learners. Finding resources to help your own family thrive is still one of the basic elements of parenting, and if you must compare, your family has a big head start.

Published On: January 05, 2007