6 Rules to Win the Parenting Game

Rule #4 Reject the Comparison Trap

Mike “Fitz” Fitzpatrick

As a dad of four, I struggle with the comparison trap. I feel like I as a parent and my family as a unit have to measure up to an elusive, all-important standard.

Anyone else feel that way?

I know of a family. Mom and Dad have the best marriage. They have a date night every week and are super connected. Their kids are pretty awesome. Each of them gets great grades and excels in their extracurriculars. They are super-polite, too, always saying ‘yes, ma’am’ and ‘no, sir.’ They hold the door open for each other, play well together, and pray with each other every night before bed. Speaking of praying, Mom and Dad have nightly devotions with their kids, and have taught them the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Beatitudes in English, Greek, AND Latin. They are, basically, the perfect family.

I know of them.

In my imagination.

They’re not real! It’s just an illusion. A mirage.

We know that this is just pie-in-the-sky dreaming and that no one can live up to that ideal. Except on Instagram.

While I may not look at some artificial high-bar to judge my family and my parenting skills, I do look at other families on social media.

And I see how much fun they are having.

And how pretty their pictures are.

And I read about how they are leading their families in spiritual conversations and practices.

And I see every goal their kid scores or every high grade they get or every bouquet of flowers they get after every performance.

And I see all the cool date nights that the parents goes on and read about how great they are at marriage.

And you know what I think? “Why can’t I be more like them?”

I probably would never say that out loud.

But in life’s quiet moments I think, “I’m just not enough.”

I get sarcastic with my wife. We don’t prioritize date nights. I roll my eyes at my kid and snap at another. This kid is having this issue, that kid is having that issue, and I don’t know how to handle either of them. Having spiritual conversations is sporadic at best.

You too?

You look around and you see families who seem to have it all put together and you wonder why you can’t be like them.

Why can’t you be all perfect and stuff like them?

And you feel like you’re not enough. You feel like you’re a failure. And it eats away at you. You know you should be doing more. You should be thriving more. Your kids should have better relationships with you. Your kids should be excelling more. Your kids should have a stronger desire to know God than they do. And you feel heavy.

It’s time to Reject the Comparison Trap.

Here’s how:

1. Keep a Grateful Gaze

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8


When you look around, what do you see?

“Don’t be wise in your own eyes…” feels like an invitation to see my life through the lens of God’s eyes rather than my own narrow perspective.

What if we redirect our gaze?

What if we were grateful for the blessings that we have right under our noses?

God has intentionally blessed you with the family you have, and God doesn’t give bad gifts.

Does that mean everything will be hunky-dory and beauty will be evident in every corner of your home? No! Of course not. Your family is comprised of humans, and humans are messy.

But there’s beauty in the mess, isn’t there?

The green grass on the other side
Looks so good but it won’t satisfy
The grass is greener on the inside
Where the Lord dwells, where the Lord dwell
Only you can satisfy

I looked elsewhere but I could not find
The meaning of this gift of life
True love is found on the inside
Where the Lord dwells, where the Lord dwells
Only you can satisfy

-One Hope Project

Keep a grateful gaze, friends.


2. Seek a Healthy Heart

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8

Healthy is more than how you care for your body. Healthy is how you care for your heart, your emotions, and your relationships as well.

Comparison of any kind works against your health.

Comparing leaves us either puffed up and feeling holier than thou or lower and less significant than others.

Either way, comparison is a deadly trap.

Comparing ourselves or our kids to others brings about stress and anxiety and insecurity and depression.

We’re concerned about people learning about the real us. We’re ok with people believing the image we put on social media, but the real, kids’ clothes don’t match, mac-n-cheese from a box multiple nights in a row, too much screen time, too much yelling, more rebellion than relationship, hardly ever pray together or crack a Bible family – we’d rather not let that info get out there.

We fear the opinions of others.

Will they look down on our parenting?

Will they look down on our kids?

Will their kids still be allowed to be friends with my kid if they know how jacked up we are?

We fear losing.

We fear losing relationships.

We fear others pulling away when they learn the truth about who we are.

We fear our kids losing out in life because they don’t measure up to other kids.

3. Fear the Lord

The word used for ‘fear’ here is the Hebrew word yirah.

While yirah can mean terror or dread, it can also mean awe, or wonder, reverence or worship.

Lord, you have examined me.

“You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
that you don’t already know completely.” -Psalm 139

God knows all the stuff.

God sees the ways that your family is ‘less than’ according to that elusive standard.

And yet, God only feels love toward you.

God’s opinion is the only one that truly matters.

God’s opinion is that of an adoring parent who thinks their kid is amazing.

God sees the imperfections and thinks you are pretty great and is so proud of you and your family.

The fear of God isn’t an anxiety fear, but a determined fear, a devotion to worship and believe and stake your life on what God believes about you, about your kids, and about the kids in your circle of influence. It’s all a gift.

THEY are all a gift.

Watch the full message HERE

Mike Fitzpatrick 1 Family Ministry Pastor

Mike “Fitz” Fitzpatrick
Ginghamsburg Family Ministry Pastor