Don’t Compare Your Insides to Everyone Else’s Outsides

Posted November 20, 2015 by

Don’t Compare Your Insides to Everyone Else’s Outsides

With Thanksgiving just three days away, images of smiling families and overflowing cornucopias color every TV, website and magazine in America.

But for many parents, learning how to cook the juiciest turkey is last on the priority list. There are much bigger concerns, like making sure your son doesn’t hit his sister at the dinner table, or knowing what to say when your mother in-law criticizes your parenting.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a performance where your child’s behavior takes center stage. If you feel judged, embarrassed or ashamed, remember this:

Don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.

On the inside, parents are often full of worry and concern for their children, their relationships and their own well-being. Sometimes we compare these emotions to how we see other families – we engage in negative thinking, hold ourselves to unrealistic standards and assume the worst about our parenting.

It may look like other parents have it all together – they have the perfect house, the perfect marriage, the perfect well-behaved kids – but inside their homes, a lot goes on that you don’t see. There’s a good chance the “perfect family” is going through the same internal struggle as you.

For parents of kids with challenging behavior, the added pressure of the holidays can be especially difficult. It’s important to take care of yourself – ease anxiety by sticking with routine as much as possible, and be clear about your family’s approach to the holidays. This includes talking with your kids ahead of time about your expectations for their behavior.

If your son has a hitting habit, talk through what he can do when he’s feeling angry with his sister instead of hitting her, and what your response will be if they can’t follow the rules. You can’t control anyone’s choices, but you do have control over your own response.

For more Thanksgiving parenting strategies, check out 6 Ways to Manage Tantrums, Misbehavior and Meltdowns During the Holidays.

You might not have a picture-perfect Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate – even if it means finding one small thing to be grateful for. Here at Empowering Parents, we’re thankful to be a part of your parenting journey.

Wishing you a moment of peace at the start of this hectic season.

All the best,

Marissa S., Empowering Parents Coach
Learn more about 1-on-1 Coaching

“If your child’s behavior has improved or changed, it’s really a form of thanks to you for what you’ve done.” -Janet Lehman, MSW, co-creator of The Total Transformation


Marissa is a proud mom to two boys, age 10 and 5. She earned her degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and has been a 1-on-1 Coach since 2011. Prior to coming to Empowering Parents, Marissa gained experience working as the House Manager of a group home for teenage boys, as a Children’s Mental Health Case Manager, and also spent several years working on the Children’s Unit at a Psych. Hospital.

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  1. Marguerite Report

    I’m new to receiving emails from this site, but as a parent of a difficult child, this was well needed and had perfect timing.

  2. Dale Report

    This made me cry! I have such high standards for myself and my children, I forget to enjoy the holiday! Letting others literally torment me with their “little put downs/remarks”

  3. srrosebud Report

    I love this site, especially this article. The outside of someone’s house might look picture perfect, until you go inside, and see what is really going on.

  4. JMic Report

    I think this is a very powerful comment for parents to internalize … Don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.  I have spent years trying to let people only see what I wanted them to and beating myself up that no one else was having the problems I was/am having.  As I’ve started to let people in a little I am seeing that several parents are having the same challenges I’m having in spite of what they present to the outside world.  These articles are very good to remind us to be kind to ourselves as we face this tough job of parenting.  Thank you.



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