How to Help Your Kids Overcome Jealousy and Insecurity

P1050504(Sibling rivalry does not have to come to this.)

“Mommy, is she going to be better at everything than me?”

I hugged my dripping wet tiny seven-year-old. At the end of our girls’ first swimming lessons, what I had dreaded the whole six week session happened.

The younger got promoted to the next level and her big sister didn’t.

Bigger and more athletic than her older sister, she simply had better motor skills, a higher attention span, and more courage at that young age. Big Sister struggled with a mix of hurt and jealousy.

“Am I always going to be not as good?”

I struggled, too.

I mean, given their genetics, none of our children were ever going to be athletically coordinated, let alone gifted. As the larger and stronger child, though, her little sister did have an edge. What to say to this little wet waif, certain that she would always be at the end of every performance test?

I’m checking in at A Fine Parent today with this article on children, jealousy, and how to find abundant praise for everyone, no child left behind!

Read the whole post here.

Dirty Laundry: Questioning the Have-To’s of Our Lives


One of our cats prefers to hang out in the clean laundry basket. Whatever. I’m so used to cat hair on my clothes I don’t stress too much over the fact that he gets it there before I’ve even had a chance to put them away. 

But the other day he hunkered down in there while I was actually doing the laundry. So it happened that I began to toss clean folded laundry on top of him. Hey, if you’re going to lounge around where I’m working, expect to get buried in stuff. 

He did not move. No matter how many clean clothes I piled on top of him, on he slept. He may have opened a slightly perturbed eye now and then, but he had no plan to get out of that basket anytime soon.

Sitting in Dirty Laundry?

At first, I wondered what to make of this. I mean, wouldn’t a normal human being (read that cat) want to maybe move away if he was being suffocated in stuff? Then I thought about it a bit more. And I wondered how often that was true in my own life. How many times have I sat there while life, or other people, piled things on top of me? I just took them and slept on. When it would make sense to wake up and say, “Hey! Didn’t you notice me in here?” and then get the heck our from underneath all that junk, sometimes I don’t behave any smarter than the cat.


Comfortable Excuses Reasons

There may be lot of crap being piled on top of me, but I am comfortable. Moving is work. Moving means finding a new place to be. It means giving up the known and comfortable basket and making the effort to walk away toward other options.


Raise of hands—how many of you do that consistently? I thought so.

I know so, because I hear it all the time.

  • I’d like more time together at home but I have to take my kid to four practices this week. . .
  • I would hang out but there’s this project at work someone else was supposed to do and now. . .
  • My family expects me to host this big dinner and I can’t take the stress . . .
  • I’m going to feel so guilty if I don’t do this the way my in-laws want it done. . .
  • There are two meetings and an outreach event and a kids’ camp at church this week, and I really should be there . . .
  • It’s my three-year-old’s birthday and I have to make zoo cupcake trains. (Is that even a thing?!)


Did you notice some of the common words in those all-too-real scenarios? Expect. But. Supposed to. Guilt. Should. Have to.

Ask the Questions

There is all kinds of stuff being piled on us all the time, and we accept it because it comes with those magically guilt-inducing words: “have to.” When was the last time you looked at one of those expectations and asked, “Do I really?”


  • Do I really have to put my kid in all those sports, or can I step off that wild ride?
  • Do I really have to complete someone else’s work, or am I just controlling that it has to get done?
  • Do I really have to host a dinner for family, or can we call it a potluck?
  • Do I really have to craft a birthday party that rivals Martha Stewart and Disney combined, or will a family get together with a cake and candles do fine?


What are we afraid is going to happen if we question the have-to’s in our life? .

Hard truth–We put too much blame on what others are throwing on us and take too little responsibility for not moving out from underneath it all. Their laundry is stifling, but at least we know we’re comfortably in control of making others happy. We know we’re needed. We know it will get done right. 

Let’s be honest, more often than not, if we’re sitting under a load of stuff, we have chosen to sit there. We could get out. But we’re afraid to leave the warm security, even if it’s slowly suffocating us.

  • What’s the worst thing that can happen if I say no?
  • What terrible tragedy will take place if I decide to let something go I think I have to control?
  • What world will spin out if I choose to let others be responsible for themselves?

  • Will I still be a worthwhile, loved person if I get out from under the pile?


As Jen Hatmaker writes in For the Love,

“We no longer assess our lives with any accuracy. We have lost the ability to declare a job well-done. We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy. No matter how hard we work or excel in an area or two, it never feels like enough. Our primary defaults are exhaustion and guilt. Meanwhile, we have beautiful lives begging to be really lived, really enjoyed, really applauded—and it is simpler than we dare hope.”


Jump Out

How simple? Get out of the laundry basket. Decide now that the world will not implode if you don’t please everyone or control the outcome of everything. Start asking yourself the questions: Do I really? What’s the worst that could happen? Will I still matter?


It’s doubt on that last one that kills us. So let’s settle it now. You are a human being made in the image of God. (At least I think you’re human. If you’re not, and you’re reading this blog, pleeeease send me a video.)

That image has never been rescinded. It’s never been recalled. It’s never been contingent on how much you’ve done to earn it. It was a done deal at creation. If someone else wants to doubt that about you, that’s their big ol’ mess of laundry, not yours. Pitch it off.

That’s why we have beautiful lives begging to be really lived. It was wired into us from the beginning. Lived in the sense of knowing all the way through us that it is freer outside of the basket where the air is clear. (Especially if it’s dirty laundry being thrown on us. Eeew.) It only seems scarier just before you jump out.

Mostly Good Is a Raging Success

I have been blessed beyond expectations for the last several months to be a part o the launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love(available for preorder now on Amazon).

Beyond expectation, because beside the opportunity to read a fantastic book before anyone else (I am slightly competitive?), the community that has formed among the launch team members has been phenomenal. Advice, weeping with those who weep, laughter, and discussions about online dating have been just a few of the things discussed. You may not want to know. We hang it all out there, and it feels like community. Which is kind of what this book is all about.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be taking chapters of the book that meant a lot to me and discussing them. Please, chime in.

Chapters 1,9,10:
Worst Beam Ever, Hope for Spicy Families, and Surviving School

Because balance beams are for gymnasts, not parents.
Raising kids. In a Pinterest world. Can I get an amen on that dilemma? The subtitle of the book says it all here: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.

There is a reason my talk “The Enemy of Good Enough” is popular among MOPS groups. (Though not as popular as the anger management for moms one. That’s a ringer anywhere.) We all feel “not good enough.” We all doubt ourselves. No matter how many birthday parties we throw, how many classrooms we volunteer in, how many times we read Good Night Moon together (and it is a lot of times), we still feel there is more we should be doing to ensure our kids will grow up safe, sane, and with a low likelihood of criminal activity.

Not enough. Not enough. Never. Enough.

The funny thing is, as Jen points out, no generation of parents has ever done more to effect that guarantee.

“Condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not God’s tool, so if we are slaves to it, we’re way off the beaten path. And it is harsh out there, debilitating actually. If your inner monologue is critical, endlessly degrading, it’s time to move back to grace. Then we can breathe and assess our own parenting with the same kindness we extend to others. Only our overly-critical, overly-involved generation could engineer such carefully curated childhood environments and still declare ourselves failures. We are loving, capable mothers reading the room all wrong. . . .We no longer assess our lives with any accuracy. We have lost the ability to declare a job well-done. We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy. 
We need to quit trying to be awesome and instead be wise.”



You know what a huge part of the problem with not letting ourselves off the hook is? We truly think that, if we remain on this self-manufactured hook, we can control the outcome. The problem is, there is no guarantee. Ever. No amount of quality parental hoop-jumping will ever ensure your kids turn out perfect. They will never be totally safe from either harm in the world or their own bad choices. And that kills us. So we try to control it with every little pinterest-approved healthy meal or bonding craft we can muster. We will get it right. Enough will ensure the future.

Enough never is. It never will be. Stop trying to be awesome. Rest in the grace of knowing, really knowing, that the One who is in control has this. No promises of safety. But abundant promises of care and provision and loving arms that wrap around you in all heartaches and fears.

Because this is just not real life.

We can’t ensure the future, and in fact, we shouldn’t. Our kids do not need to grow up expecting mom to create wonderful experiences every time something scary or threatening or sad happens. They need us to hold their hands and bring them before the One who can get them through the sad/threatening/scary times. The times they will face someday without mommy around. They need us to teach them how to handle sad and scary. All by themselves. Without dolphin sandwiches. (You’ll just have to read the book to understand that one.)

I love this quote that lets us all off that terrible hook we put ourselves on:

“Can I tell you my goal for my kids? That their childhood is mostly good. People, I declare “mostly good” a raging success. If I am mostly patient and they are mostly obedient, great. If we are mostly nurturing and they turn out mostly well-adjusted, super.”



Isn’t that freeing? Isn’t mostly good truly good enough? Can we give ourselves grace to be mostly good? Our kids will thank us.

Find Jen’s book here. Trust me, this is so worth it. I’ll keep telling you why for the next couple weeks!

not the happiest place?

Facebook is not the happiest place on earth. Two German universities have proved this.
This new study reveals that envy is rampant on Facebook. To be precise, “The spread and ubiquitous presence of envy on Social Networking Sites is shown to undermine users’ life satisfaction.”
In fact, we are so jealous of our social counterparts that we feel less happy with our own lives after spending our mornings with social media. We also embellish our own public lives. Just a little. Maybe. To keep up.
When I first heard that people were dissatisfied with their time on Facebook, I thought, duh, if I see one more post on a) the presidential election, b) gun control, or c) I Haz Cheezburger-style grammar, I might actually purchase one of those guns and go postal on my laptop. (After which, of course, I would post the video on Facebook.)

But no, the two sources of unhappiness surprised me. They were looking at other peoples’ vacation photos and checking how many times other people were wished Happy Birthday.
What? Someone actually sits around doing that? Counting birthday posts? I am beginning to see why those people might have life satisfaction issues. They have no life.
The interesting point getting less press is that envy and dissatisfaction were linked to how much the person actually interacts on Facebook. Lurkers feel more envy. A lot more. The more people simply look at your vacation photos without interacting with you personally, the more they envy you. The more they spend their time counting ‘Likes’ as opposed to talking to people they like, the more unhappy they are.
We did not need a German study to tell us this. Common sense should point us in that direction, though sense is far less than common these days.
Sense would tell me that it’s easier to compare myself to someone and envy them when I have never really talked to them, never discovered their hurts, dreams, and common threads. It has never occurred to me to envy my friends’ vacation photos and birthday wishes because I am genuinely happy when they are happy. I have made their happiness a part of my life. (Also because most of us, if we’re honest, are annoyed by 500 birthday notifications ringing through on our phones all day.)
If we choose to watch other people live their lives rather than living our own, we are unhappy. This is not new to Facebook world. It’s just more easily accessible.
Maybe rather than cause some people to tone down their vacation pics or others to ramp up their stories to compete, this study should call us to recognize that our happiness is in our own hands, not those of our “friends.” 

We can choose to compare lives or we can choose to make lives.
Making a life doesn’t mean streaking off to the Bahamas or Paris and then posting pictures. It means finding the richness we have where we are by interacting with life and with others rather than watching then live. It means to stop observing and saying “I wish” and start jumping in, saying, “I will.”
I will. What do you want to jump into today?