Rule #32: Give Your Child an Inferiority Complex

Prepare your child for a life in the shadow of better kids.

Prepare your child for a life in the shadow of better kids.

An enormous part of parenting involves cringing at your children’s shortcomings and jealously pining for the intelligence, accomplishments and excellent traits of children who are way better than them.

This instinct to compare your children to others is natural, and from the time your offspring are old enough to blow spit bubbles, you start noticing that the spit bubbles being blown by babies the same age are somehow better—maybe they’re more symmetrical, or the baby has ingeniously laced his spit bubbles with breast milk or crushed peaches to increase their stability.

And so you look disdainfully at your baby as he blows ordinary spit bubbles and want to say to him, “Son, it seems pretty clear that you can’t even blow a decent spit bubble. Look at how large Matthew’s spit bubble is compared to yours—and he can even crap his diaper while he’s doing it.”

When your child gets older, there’s a good chance he’ll be surrounded by kids who are considerably better than him. You might see this, but he doesn’t—that’s why it’s important to point out how superior some of his friends, classmates and total strangers are.

Resentment? Maybe.

There’s a fairly good chance your child will resent being compared to others—he will resent you, the people he’s being compared to, and quite possibly every sunrise.

But the tradeoff in your child’s “self awareness” will be worth it. Some situational techniques to consider when making brazen comparisons:

Will your children to be taller…

Children are attuned to their appearances at a young age, and this awareness becomes acute during teenage years. Which means this is your chance to convey some unreasonable comparisons to other kids.

Most children don’t comprehend subtlety, so be clear about your comparisons when you say things like, “Jason, I know your mom and I are pretty short, but we’re wondering why you’re not 6’ 2” like your friend Marty—maybe that’s why he’s more popular with girls and is a starter on the basketball team, while you spend your Friday nights popping zits and Super Mario Kart. Just think how much better off you’d be if you were taller.”

Scoff at their lousy, non-Mandarin achievements…

Jump-start your child’s academic mojo by comparing her to classmates who have their act together, even if their acts can’t be duplicated.

For example, if your daughter has a Chinese friend who can run linguistic circles around her, don’t hold back: “Jessica, look at your friend Mi Ti Li—I heard she can speak Mandarin fluently. I know she grew up in China and all, but I bet her language skills landed her that classy internship at the Asian steakhouse shelling shrimp. Just think how much better off you’d be if you knew Mandarin.”

Wonder out loud why they can’t fetch things…

Oh, you got an A on your spelling test? Well she got 6 medals. And she wrote the damn spelling test.

Oh, you got an A on your spelling test? Well she got 6 medals. And she wrote the damn spelling test.

You paid good money for the family’s labradoodle, Scruffy, and it’s paying off—the pooch understands some basic commands, fetches rodents in various forms of decay from the woods and proudly places them at your feet, and only shits 375 times a week.

You think your son might learn something from this disciplined beast, so offer a few comments to help him understand what you expect: “You know, Kenneth, Scruffy barks when we come into the house, and I hear nothing from you. He also sniffs other people and makes them feel welcome, while you usually retreat to another room. Scruffy also has pretty soft fur, while your hair needs to be washed more often—and don’t forget conditioner. Just think how much better off you’d be if you were Scruffy.”

Funny thing is, your son probably feels that way already.

Comments

  1. I think this is the way my husband thinks about me. Or maybe the other way around.

  2. edie says:

    “and he can even crap his diaper while he’s doing it.” …
    this is how i know my children are superior; they can crap their diapers while doing anything. Come to think of it, this makes my husband quite superior as well.

  3. Rachel says:

    I think i drank a Mi Ti Li last night. It was pink and frothy and there was an orange and a cherry stabbed with a pirate sword toothpick. i also farted really loud this morning while yawning, which is way more superior than some baby with no developed sphincter muscles “crapping while doing anything.” not in the least bit interesting if you ask me.

  4. jason says:

    The kid on the left-hand side of picture 1 is my hero.

    @Rachel: Eww.

  5. @Angie: It could be both. Inferiority complexes are thought to be contagious.

    @edie: Is your husband secretly a superhero? Many of us lose the ability to leap tall buildings and crap on demand after our teenage years. He must have an incredible prostate.

    @Rachel: Sounds like a delayed response though. The simultaneous effect is the really impressive part. But kudos to you, it sounds like you had a great night and were greeted with an echo of it in the A.M.

    @jason: Aw, come on, play nice!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] and circus people, but as a parent who tries each day to instill values like forbearance and whole-body humility, it’s critical to press your heavy foot on the full bladder of life. (We’re been waiting for [...]

Speak Your Mind