Don’t make your life choices based on what someone else does …
When I’ve watched how other families live their lives or what choices they’ve made, I’ve been tempted to think, “Should we do the same thing? Are we doing something wrong if we make a different choice?”
I’m not talking about black and white choices. As a follower of Jesus there are some things I emphatically believe are wrong and some things that are right.
What I’m talking about are the gray areas. Should your husband work at home with you? Should your children start school at age 4 or age 5? Perhaps you should downsize and move to a tiny home? Should you adopt the latest popular diet?
I guess it’s the adult version of peer pressure–seeing what everyone else seems to be doing makes us wonder whether we should follow suit.
Some of you may not struggle with this at all, but this is something I have struggled with. Over the past few years of pondering this, I’ve decided that we are NOT all supposed to make the same choices.
Here are 5 reasons you don’t want to model your family’s choices after what another family is doing:
1. We are all in different life seasons.
It doesn’t matter if you are the same age–your season of life might be vastly different!
I’m 35 and have been married 10 years. I have an 8-year-old, an almost 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and I’m pregnant with our fourth child. I have other friends that are my age that got married when they were younger. So they’ve been married 12 or 15 years and maybe have kids that are a little older than mine.
They’re already in a different season. They may not have their kids still crawling into bed with them every night. (I know my kids are kind of too old for that, too, but it still happens!)
These friends with older children are able to do more than what I’m currently able to do. On the same token, if you have a newborn, a 2-year-old, and a 4-year-old, you won’t be able to do the exact same things that I might be able to do now. You may still be getting up to feed your baby several times in the night.
Don’t measure what your family is doing based on another family that might be in a totally different life season.
2. We all have different families.
Beyond being in different seasons with your children’s ages, perhaps you have six or seven kids while someone else has one or two kids. You are going to have to make different choices if you have more children than somebody that has fewer children.
Someone with fewer children may not have the extra hands to help do chores around the house, and will have to follow a different cleaning routine than you. Or perhaps you’re the one with fewer kids; you might decide to send your children to school so they can have more friendships with other children.
There are so many differences in our families. You might be a single mom. You might have a blended family. It’s not comparing apples to apples, so there is no reason to even compare yourself to someone that has a different family than you.
3. We all have different finances.
Perhaps there’s a family down the street who takes their kids to Disney World every year. Not everyone has the finances to do this, or wants to budget for it.
Perhaps your friend is able to feed her family 100% organic food straight from the farm, and you are living on a medium to lower income and can’t afford organic food. Don’t compare yourself to your friend!
4. We all have different personalities.
This is huge and something that took a while for me to recognize.
I am not naturally organized. Naturally, I am more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, spontaneous person. I have come to realize that, yes, I have weaknesses that come out with that, but God made me who I am for a reason, and I also have gifts that come with that.
My mentor Holly and I are very different. She’s 13 years older than me and is super organized and put together. She never flies by the seat of her pants.
She is a joy to be around, and she’s taught me so much.
I’ve been thinking over the past two years that maybe when I’m Holly’s age, I’ll be super organized and have everything running like a well-oiled machine–just like Holly!
And then I went on a trip to a blogging conference and I roomed with Holly and another friend, Jen Schmidt, who is around Holly’s age.
What was hilarious was that Jen acted a lot like ME, in spite of the age difference. I realized I’m not going to be Holly in 13 years. I’m going to be more like Jen. (And interestingly enough, Jen and I have the same Myers-Briggs personality type–ENFP. Holly is an ESFJ.)
I’m simply not going to be the type of person who is super organized. But I am going to bring some spontaneity to life! We all have different personalities, and that’s okay. Let’s embrace and celebrate the differences!
5. We all have different priorities.
I’ve had people say to me “Well it must be nice that you can afford to send your girls to a private Christian school.” It IS nice, and we are grateful.
But what people don’t see is that my daughters don’t do many extracurricular activities. My oldest goes to an art class once a month that costs $10. She’s also in a club called Pioneer Girls (a Christian-based alternative to Girl Scouts) that’s super cheap–about $26 a year!
Our kids don’t do dance lessons. They were in gymnastics for a little while and got a homeschool rate that was half the price.
We’ve found ways to do extracurricular on the cheap so we can use the money the Lord has given us to send our girls to this particular school.
So is it wrong for parents to choose sports and other activities instead of a Christian school? It’s not wrong at all!
Some families might want their kids to have a Christian education, but also want them to be super involved in sports and music and other activities. For them, it may be that they sacrifice and homeschool full-time so they don’t have to pay the tuition like we do. Then they have some room for their kids to participate in other activities.
It’s all a matter of priorities. It’s not a black-and-white issue.
We are all unique and gifted differently. We all have different life seasons, different families, different finances, different personalities, and different priorities.
You can’t base your life choices on what somebody else chooses to do. You need to focus on your family, how you are uniquely gifted, and what God has called you and your family to do.
I loved your perspective in this post!! Even among our family and friends, we’ve all made different decisions in areas like schooling, extracurricular activities, etc. This is a good reminder that each of our choices only has to be right for us in our current season, in line with what God is calling us to do.
Thank you, Tracey! It’s freeing to embrace this!
I agree so much with your last point. It’s all about priorities. My husband and I jokingly say “it must be nice” about people who spend money differently than we do. (We live in an area where most people have a lot of money, or at least appear to.) It’s just our way of reminding each other that’s not where we choose to spend.
Yes! It’s all about priorities!
Very encouraging post. I think that we often forget that even as adults we are subject to peer pressure. But what I have always said to my own kids is that you can never please everyone. For every choice you make, someone will object and think you should make a different choice, so you have to be true to who you are. God gives each of us our own unique gifts and we need to focus on our strengths that He has given us.
Yes! Peer pressure can be just as prevalent in adulthood, it seems!