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Parents comparing children

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I am bothered by my cousin's behavior involving her ds and mine. Her ds is 21 mos, mine is 15 mos.

Whenever we are together, she constantly compares her son to mine. But, it is always unfavorable to HER son.

For example, they have a hanging plant. My ds showed interest in it so I lifted him up to it. He poked it, petted it, smelled it, then pulled a leaf off. I said, "Plants are for looking at and touching gently." He patted it and then wanted down. My cousin said, "M. would never do that. He'd just tear the thing down and destroy it."

Another time, my ds was playing quietly by himself and her ds was asking for attention, whining a little. She said, "C. is such a good baby and M. is a holy terror."

It's constant and always within earshot of both boys. I try to always point out M.'s accomplishments by saying things like, "Look at you. You stacked those blocks very high." or "You wiped up that spill. It's all gone." And I always say please and thank you to him. She just orders him around.

I've talked to my cousin about it, but she doesn't think she is harming him, just giving him an example to follow. These boys are going to grow up together and I'd like them to be friends. I don't think that's going to happen if this continues.

Any thoughts on what I can do?
post #2 of 6
That's really sad.

I think if you're careful to be loving and generous with both children, and if you encourage them to be that way with each other, then it's likely that they will be friends anyway.

But I just want to cry thinking how your cousin's son will feel about his mother--as though she doesn't like/love him. How sad.

Is there a way you could encourage your cousin to follow your example of gentle childrearing? Maybe that will give her child a better example to follow than just cutting him down all the time.
post #3 of 6
I may be totally off-base here, but I had a thought as I read this
so here goes: maybe your cousin is the one who feels like she
doesn't measure up, and can't help but feeling her son must not
either if she doesn't.

Perhaps she's the one that needs the gentle positive
reinforcement. This story really reminds me of my mother, who
always thought we were "a holy terror" and that everyone else's
children were just perfect. She was an extraordinarily negative
woman who could not help but see everything that touched her
or us in a negative light.

Maybe you could give this theory a test by commenting favorably
on what a good job she's doing with her son. Nothing dishonest,
fake or fawning, but a simple "oh I really like how well you ......".
If she gives a satisfied thank you and a smile, I would say I'm
totally off base but if she brushes off the comment and points
out something negative about herself, than her self-esteem
may be the real issue.

I just can't help but think that if she honestly felt good about her
parenting and herself there is no way she would be able
to feel bad about her son. Poor little guy.

all the best,
post #4 of 6
Victoria, that's a good point. I also know a mom who is constantly pointing out the negative about her kids or unknowingly embarrassing them by publicly commenting on their latest behavioral struggles, and seems very confident on the outside but is inwardly very self-doubting. When I'm around her, I try to make positive comments about the positive things she does, and I also try to support her when she is wondering if she's doing okay. MelKnee, do you think this could be the issue with your cousin?
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Victoria, you may be on to something. My cousin has a very hard time accepting compliments.

I guess I'll just continue being as positive as I can with the both of them. Maybe it will sink in.

Thanks everyone.
post #6 of 6
I guess it hits just too close to home for me...my husband
accuses me of having a touch of this, and he's right. Though my
negativity and self-doubt is only a homeopathic dose compared
to my moms. (She once called me in a furious rage because
long ago her mother purchased a life insurance policy for her and
it had matured. She needed to decide whether to cash it in or
convert it to stocks and she was angry and upset because she
didn't know anything about stocks. All this from a woman who
works very hard as a telemarketer for barely above minimum
wage, lives in a tiny studio apartment and many of lifes
necessities are but luxuries to her. A considerable windfall fell in
her lap (about $5,000) and she could only imagine how it was
going to make her life more difficult: ). But since I'm
aware of it I try to be consciously grateful for the things I have
and what I've accomplished. When I'm not in a proper frame of
mind it always seems like my peers are leading their lives in
exactly the right way, and that I make only poor choices. When
the clouds clear I can see I've done a great job and have really
come a long way. Self-doubt can be a debilitating boogie man,
but worse for the Negative-Mom will be the day she looks back
and realizes her boy is all grown up and goes elswhere for
comfort and support. I wonder if she'll wish she had appreciated
him more when she had the opportunity or if she'll just think
other mom's son's are more attentive????

all the best,
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