Just about any time a mother talks about a developmental milestone in her child, other mothers compare notes.
It’s important that when we talk about young children, we recognize that there is an enormous variety of abilities in children, even when they have intelligent, devoted, and mature Christian parents. Just because my four year old is far from understanding salvation doesn’t necessarily mean I’m shirking my duty, or that the parent of a saved four year old is rushing her child to a decision. If my child can sing entire hymns from memory at a young age, it doesn’t mean that the next mother must also have a child with the same ability, if she did her job properly. These differences cannot all be explained by high expectations and a challenging environment. Children are different. And even though I know this well, have seen it in my own children, I still do what I know is wrong. I compare and despair.
Long ago, I thought all of my children would be extremely verbal from an early age. I love words and communication. I can talk nonstop. Wouldn’t it make sense that all the verbal stimulation I provide would produce children who are exceptional communicators? In fact, although they’re competent communicators, they are still very much at age level in their abilities.Â Take for example, Scripture memory. I’m certain there are two and four year olds who have memorized long portions of Scripture word for word, without help. But neither of our older children are there yet. In May, our church memorized Psalm 1. Well, we started working on it each night after devotions, and our kids still haven’t totally gotten it. They’ve actually done great; they can each say it with about one or two helps per verse (usually to keep them from going off track). Sometimes they do better when they’re not distracted or trying to speed up the devotions time. But they’re not making any more progress so we decided tonight that we were going to move on.
Yes, it’s possible our memorization teaching technique is faulty. Maybe we’ll start a new passage and try some new methods. But it’s also likely that they’re doing just as they should be. In the meantime, we (me, really) must guard against imposing our own children’s abilities on others, or imposing other children’s abilities on ours. Learn from each other? Yes. Measuring our competence against other mothers, or against other children’s accomplishments is not wise.
I Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.