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“I Had to Tell My Sister to Stop Comparing Her Daughter to My Son Who Has Autism”

Comparing one child to another is never a good idea, least of all when one is neurodivergent. Children with special needs, and their parents, face difficulties and challenges that people with neurotypical children often struggle to understand. Which is why one mum had enough of her sister making comments unfairly comparing their children.

I’m (28F) a single mom to a wonderful 4-year-old boy, Leo, who is autistic. My sister, Emily (31F), has a 5-year-old daughter who is neurotypical. Recently, Emily has been making a lot of comments comparing our kids, and it’s starting to get on my nerves.

Emily often says things like, “Oh, my daughter can count to 100 already. How high can Leo count?” or “My daughter has so many friends at preschool. Does Leo play with other kids much?” While I know she loves her daughter and is proud of her, these comparisons make me feel like she’s highlighting Leo’s differences and shortcomings.

Last weekend, during a family BBQ, Emily made another comment about her daughter’s speech skills compared to Leo’s. I finally snapped and told her, “Emily, I wish you’d stop comparing our kids. Leo is doing amazing in his own way, and it hurts when you constantly point out what he isn’t doing.”

Emily looked shocked and got really upset. She said I was being overly sensitive and that she was just sharing her daughter’s achievements. Now my mom thinks I was too harsh and should apologize, but I feel like I needed to defend my son.

So, Reddit, AITA

Commenters agreed that it was an unspoken rule that you don’t compare your child to others full stop. It’s unfair to everyone involved and a great way to find yourself with zero real friends in your mum’s group. They thought that she was right to pull her sister up on it, although some thought it might have been best to speak up sooner and not wait until she was so angry about it.

NTA it was bothering you and you said something. Regardless if she agrees or not she should be OK with stopping. Maybe say something sooner so you don’t snap about it, might have gone over a little better that way. (SendMeNSFWnolimits)

 

There’s a difference between telling others about your kids achievements and comparing your older child’s achievements/development to a younger, differently-abled child. Sometimes you gotta read the room and proceed with sensitivity. (simplyintentional)

 

 

Talking about your kid in direct comparison to someone else’s is actually a huge no-no. (United-Signature-414)

 

Hell no. Her behaviour was obnoxious and she needs to knock it off. (Patiient_Meaning_2751)

 

NTA

She can talk about her own kid, withOUT comparing her to your son. (The-Bad_Agent)

Some people believed that the sister knew exactly what she was doing, and was putting down her nephew in order to feel good about her own daughter, and deserved a dressing down in front of everyone.

I would straight up ask her in front of the family what her intention is in comparing Leo to her daughter– and when she deflects and sputters, keep bringing it around to that same question. Don’t let her out of it. She won’t have an answer. (FictionalContext)

 

Nta its fucked up that she needs to make her child look superior to another child who is 1 a child 2 autistic and 3 younger then her kid. Being proud of her kid is not the same as comparing her to others. Especially if she’s doing it in the presence of the children, it could effect your sons and/or her daughters mental health. (Actual-Clue-3165)

She was shocked, upset, and angry because you pointed out, in public, that what she was doing was fucked up, and she never stopped to consider how comparing her daughter to your son might make you or your son feel. She’s upset at her own actions and how she feels about them and is deflecting. Very normal human behavior unfortunately. Your mom saying you were too harsh and need to apoligize is exactly the same as your mother saying it’s totally acceptable for your sister to continue to, intentionally or not, belittle your son. If you’re a bad person because of how what you said makes your sister feel, what does that make your sister? NTA at all.

If that was really all you said to her, then your sister and mother are massively over-reacting. You didn’t say anything rude to her at all, she’s shocked and angry because you pointed out she was being shitty, and she doesn’t like realizing that, so instead of reflecting on herself, she’s attacking the first obvious external source of these feelings, which is you pointing out that she’s being shitty. (Festivefire)

Other parents of children with special needs jumped in to offer their personal wisdom and insight on dealing with these types of issues.

Nta. I also have a special needs 4 year old and have had to shut down the “parenting competition” comments. Its incredibly toxic even in the best of circumstances. All kids develop at different paces. All kids shine in different ways. Some kids struggle with potty training. Some kids struggle with speech. Some kids struggle with emotional outbursts. Some kids struggle with social development. Special needs or not it is rarely a reflection of parenting success or failure and could very realistically not be a reflection of where the kid will be in 5 years. Its mom shaming at its worst. Now I’ve started picking up on this stuff a lot more and I always shut it down even if it’s not directed at me. Things like oh that’s ok kids all develop at different speeds and all kids have different struggles! You’re both doing great it sounds like. In a few years who knows where the kids will be? My two mom friends were having a discussion about potty training and the one mom seemed near tears her 4 year old just wasn’t catching on. Asking for advice and the other mom just randomly started talking about how easy and quick and amazing all her kids potty trained and almost bragging about how perfect her kids were and I definitely redirected the Convo into how absolutely normal it was for a toddler to struggle with potty training and how all kids struggle with different things and offering some stories of my own parenting struggles. (SwimmingJello2199)

 

I have a 25 year-old son with autism.

What you are describing never ends. Parents talk about their kids, and they talk about their kids doing things, and achieving things, and it doesn’t occur to them that your heart aches for your child every time they do it. you are NTA, but my suggestion is to let it go. It will happen over and over again throughout your child’s life, and it’s an endless battle you won’t win. Your sister honestly has no idea what your life is like. Nobody with NT kids does. They aren’t trying to hurt you.

If she asks about your kid just be honest. No, he struggles to make friends. No, he’s not counting right now. Talk about your kid as he is without shame or apology. He is who he is.

By now my friends and family all know my son. They know what he’s like and what he can and can’t do, and that’s ok. It’s good, actually. The more they know the easier it is for everyone when we get together. (Has422)

One fellow parent of a neurodivergent parent gently offered the mum a different perspective on the whole thing, admitting that they often were very sensitive about things when it comes to their child, and maybe her sister and mother were not intentionally trying to hurt her.

NTA, But neither are they.

As a mother of an autistic 6 year old and also an SLT, I felt every word of this.

But equally, I find the protective and sensitivity levels of a parent of a neurodivergent child to be the absolute highest point possible.

I find myself being affected by the slightest comments by other parents when it comes to any sort of comparison between my son and their neurotypical children. Especially when it comes to achieving milestones. After some self reflection, I realised that actually I was being overly sensitive the majority of the time.

Allow yourself to be proud of your niece and their achievements. You don’t have to compare everything (easier said than done) to how Leo is progressing.

It’s likely she isn’t doing it maliciously but is also in her own little bubble with her daughter.

❤️ (xboltcutterx)

What do you think?

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Jolene

Jolene

Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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