Is Comparison Really the Thief of Joy?


You have probably heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”. (Theodore Roosevelt)

I have tried to be very aware of comparing myself to other women, to other moms (and I fail miserably all the time).

“How did she get her pre-baby body back so fast?”

“Why does she cave in to her child?”

or “How on earth does she keep it all together?”

Yes, I have said all those things to myself. It’s interesting that I have tried to be aware of NOT comparing myself to other moms. Yet I have been less intentional at implementing this with my kids.

Just the other day I walked into my son’s room, (he was cleaning his room at 9pm) and the words “your sister is better at keeping her room clean…”escaped my mouth.


I had just committed the ever so detrimental to their psyche comparison of my kids.

Quickly I tied in the next few fumbled sentences about how we all have strengths and weaknesses and blah blah blah.

Then I went to my room and breathed heavy as I actually tried to rationalize if comparing my children was “that bad”. If comparison is the thief of joy, had I just robbed my son of his?

First of all, let me just say that I have compared my children in the past. Who talked first, who walked first, how different their personalities are. However, this particular time I used to it to make my son aware that he wasn’t as good as his sister. Was this “that” bad?

In this occasion it was.

My son is a sensitive boy, he is the type of kid who always pays attention to little things. He is constantly comparing himself to other boys, how sporty they are, how fast they are, how smart they are. So for me to throw it in his face that he isn’t as good as his sister, well…

You should of seen his face, after having spent an hour cleaning his room I came in and broke his spirit. He was defeated!

Yet even as I write this post, I’m not sure if it’s that bad. Am I wanting to make myself feel better? Or excuse myself? No. I think I just have a case of the mom guilt.

In this case I robbed my son of feeling accomplished for cleaning his room. I didn’t reward his hard work, especially since it was so late at night and he was tired. What I should have said is: “I’m so glad you’ve stayed up to clean your room, maybe you can keep it from getting so messy next time” 

Every day you live and you learn as a mom. I’ve realized that I need to be more intentional about the way I see my kids. The words I choose to communicate with them. I’ve also realized that my son is the least organized of my kids, and you know what? That’s okay, he’s pretty good at other things.

What do you think of comparing your children?

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Elisa is a city girl who moved to Ramona with her husband Eddie and their three children. The Teen, the Boy and little V. She is a stay at home mom who home schools her son, teaches Sunday school, loves to crochet, sew and craft-nights. She also has a passion for gardening, enjoys wine tastings and having date nights out. When she isn't running her kids from singing lessons to soccer, she likes to attend church marriage group with her husband, meeting friends for happy hour, working out, and having coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Since moving to the suburbs of San Diego a few years ago she has learned that country living isn't so bad after all.


  1. You are a great mama!!! And, it hurts when you realize you have made your child feel bad. It takes a great mama to see the mistake and want to make a change.

    Let me over analyze comparison for a moment… lol

    Comparison is not bad, in an of itself, but when comparison leads to feeling inadequate and that feeling does not result in the motivation to change or be better, it can end up being a thief of joy.

    If that comparison is made on something that is unchangeable and it results in feeling inadequate, then it serves no purpose.

    If a comparison leads to motivation to change or be better than it has a useful purpose.

    The key is to make sure it is used appropriately. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Wrapping a comparison, if meant to motivate, between two positive statements or comparisons can help it to be received the way intended for example.

    “You a great swimmer. That boy has a great breaststroke because he has more power in his kick than you do right now. If we work on your kick, I know your breaststroke will become just as strong, if not stronger!.

  2. So true Lori. I knew immediately that I was comparing in the wrong way, not to build up my son. And I was struggling with the idea of whether comparing was, at all bad.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such a well written way.


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