About the Guest
Thou shalt not covet," right? So what about comparison? Kay Wills Wyma says with the prevalence of the internet and social media, we're becoming comparison junkies. Kay explains where this urge to compare comes from and why indulging in this vice demolishes our contentment.
Kay Wills WymaKay Wills Wyma, former White House staffer, international banker, and entrepreneur, is a mom of five who writes about seeing beyond life's pressures in order to navigate life and thrive together. She is the author of two books and blogs at the popular themoatblog.com and video podcasts at saysomethingshow.com. She has been featured on outlets such as The Today Show, CNN, and Focus on the Family, and has contribu...more
Thou shalt not covet,” right? So what is comparison? Kay Wills Wyma says with social media, we’re becoming comparison junkies. Kay explains why indulging in this vice demolishes our contentment.
Bob: You don’t have to be a parent very long before you begin to realize that comparison can be a killer. Here is Kay Wyma.
Kay: “Are you organically feeding your baby?” “Are you breast feeding your baby?” “How many play groups are you in?” “What schools are you going…?” “Are they learning—do they speak Spanish by the age of two?” It just keeps going on, and on, and on. So, for a parent, really and truly, there is no one you care more about than your child. When you let everybody else define what your standard of parenting is, there is definitely disconnect; because you can’t know it all.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, April 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How can we stay out of the comparison quagmire? Kay Wyma’s going to join us today to help us with that. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.
You know, one of the things I like about our guest is that she tackles tough issues that happen in every family. I mean, the first time we had her here—and you should probably introduce her.
Dennis: Well, I’ll tell you what I like about her is—she’s got one of the more difficult tongue-twister names to introduce. [Laughter] I just want our listeners to try this—her name is: Kay Wills Wyma—try that real fast. [Laughter] Kay—welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Kay: Thank you.
Bob: The first time you were here, Kay, we were talking about your book, which was called Cleaning House. You were addressing what you saw as kind of toxic levels of entitlement that had begun to emerge in your home,—
Bob: —and you got really intentional and really practical to try to weed that out with your kids. [Laughter]
Dennis: Because she was sitting at a stop light—on Preston Road in Dallas, Texas—and her son kind of leans over and goes, “When I grow up, I want a Jaguar.” [Laughter]
Bob: That’s what started the whole thing—I remember that clearly! [Laughter]
Kay: God bless him—
Bob: So, my question is—
Kay: —poor thing.
Bob: You went through a year of really trying to address that.
Kay: I did.
Bob: Is it better?
Kay: Absolutely. If I look at today versus then, absolutely yes.
Bob: So, now, is the thing that prompted this book the fact that there might be toxic levels of envy in your home?
Kay: Well, what prompted this book was a discussion with the publisher, actually, asking me, “What is the elephant in the room everywhere I go?” Since Cleaning House, I’ve had a great opportunity to speak at a lot of different venues—a lot of secular and faith-based venues—and they said, “What is the elephant in the room?”
I thought: “Well, that is so easy! It is this competitive—this weird competitive thing with parenting.” I don’t understand it. It’s like Olympic level—it’s bizarre. Who knew it existed? Then, I said, “But, you know, the real issue under that is comparison.” And they looked at me and said, “That sounds great.” And then I learned, [Laughter] don’t ever write a book off a topic. [Laughter] My goodness—
Dennis: Oh yes.
Kay: —it’s really hard. [Laughter]
Dennis: I wrote a book about parenting today’s adolescents before finishing the job of raising teenagers.
Kay: Oh my goodness.
Dennis: That was a tactical error.
Kay: How do you not have----it’s just brutal; and it was instantly challenging the minute I put my toes in it, because it actually is everywhere.
Bob: Well, interesting to me that you said that this issue really surfaced around parenting. You’re saying, “One group of parents / another group of parents—and it’s, ‘Well, my son got into here...’”
Dennis: Okay; hold it. I’ve just got to show you a picture. [Laughter]
Bob: You just pulled out your phone.
Dennis: I’m not going to reveal which grandchild this was—
Kay: Well, see, I love this; because it’s grandchildren too.
Dennis: Oh, yes! Oh, yes! And you know what? I hadn’t read your book at the point where this came through, but I’m going to show Bob first because he’s got grandchildren—I’m just going to show you. This is one of my grandchildren,—
Dennis: —having the gold medal put around his or her neck,—
Dennis: —for being the winner of their bracket in their age group for alpine skiing. The gold medal is being placed around the neck—
Bob: This looks like the Olympic ceremony here.
Dennis: —by Lindsey Vonn.
Bob: You’re serious?
Kay: That’s impressive!
Dennis: So, I got this, and I immediately thought, “Who can I show this to?” And then, I thought, “I know my own heart.”
Dennis: Now, who will look at that picture—it’ll be a real friend that looks at that picture and goes—
Bob: “I’m happy for you,”—
Dennis: —“I’m happy for you!” [Laughter]
Dennis: —because most parents are going, “My kid can’t even walk across the parking lot, let alone, ski downhill.”
Kay: Or “Was I supposed to sign up for something?” That’s where I sit—going: “Oops! Was I supposed to be there?” [Laughter]
Kay: But it is interesting—and that’s the Facebook® issue that people are saying is such an issue. They call it Facebook depression. People are showing, online, their highlight reel versus their real life.
Dennis: And it’s interesting—on this picture of my grandchild that got this gold medal—
Bob: The gold medal—you’re going to mention that again.
Dennis: —the gold medal—you really can’t let your own weakness or other people’s weaknesses keep you from celebrating what is a great moment—
Dennis: —a kid did really well! This child won something that was really pretty cool! Now—
Kay: Which he worked hard for.
Bob: Would you like us to go ahead and put that picture on FamilyLifeToday.com so everyone—
Dennis: No; no. [Laughter] No; I wouldn’t—but I do think this issue of comparison really can keep us, not only from just rejoicing in what happens that is good, but also, causing us to be—as we talked about earlier—being green with envy and not being able to celebrate what other people accomplish either.
Kay: Yes; because when—I love when you showed that picture—the thought was: “What about me?”—okay? So, there—it took it and made a picture about somebody else about me. I let it define me, and that’s not what that is for—therein lies the issue with comparison.
It really is not a new—it’s not a new topic. As I started thinking about this and researching it, it truly goes to the beginning of time. It is the tool that Satan used to bring the Fall into being because here are these people, that are standing there with no clothes on, happily living life—okay?—until someone said to them: “Here’s something over here that you can’t have. Someone has something that you don’t have. If you had it, then, you would be okay.”
Instantly, they looked at that, and they were like, “Yes!” Their eyes went on themselves to say: “I don’t have that. I need that.” So, they didn’t trust the One that said, “I have you in perfect provision.” They trusted the one that said, “You are lacking something.” When they did that, their eyes went on themselves—they realized they had no clothes on, and from that day forward, they never could get their minds off of themselves.
Dennis: And the essence of what they were tempted with there—this is what I want our listeners to hear, but also, pass on to their kids—the serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the statement,
“Has God said…?” Caused them to question what God had said / had commanded in the Scripture.
And if you think about where we lose it, we really don’t believe God is God / He is in charge, and what we have right now may be enough for us right now.
Bob: I want to go back to parenting, though—
Bob: —because this is—as you said, this is one of those areas—whether it’s parenting or grandparenting—and pulling out the honor shots on your camera to show to everybody else. We have a lot invested, as moms and dads, in how our kids are doing.
I remember an opening scene in a movie—I don’t even remember what movie it was—but here was a mom, with a baby in a stroller, sitting with other moms with babies in strollers at the park. One of the moms said, “Have you got your daughter enrolled for preschool yet?” And the mom said, “Well, no, she’s just a baby.” And she said: “Oh, but if you want to get her into this exclusive preschool, you need to get the application in. If you don’t have it in now, you probably can’t get her into the preschool.”
And here is the mom, starting to get anxious about the fact that she hasn’t enrolled her daughter in the preschool, and “What’s going to happen?” and “Has she ruined her daughter’s life by not doing that?” This is the kind of—
Bob: —competition and envy that eats a lot of moms and dads alive.
Kay: And I think that that movie—I feel like it was Diane Keaton.
Bob: It was—Baby Boom.
Kay: Baby Boom.
Bob: Yes; that’s what it was.
Kay: And so, she was in New York; okay?
Kay: And in New York City, they actually have exmissions out of preschool to see what grade school you are going to after the preschool. And it is huge—the stress that is associated in the lives of these parents for exmissions. I had never even heard of that word before.
For me, I quite frankly am grateful that I had my children when I did because now it is truly on steroids; because people know, when they get pregnant, and then they show on—they have reveals. Reveals are really big right now. And there can be millions of viewers on these reveals. Let alone, when you get engaged—which, I don’t know if you’ve seen those—but they are on YouTube—
---which, you know, there is one in Battery Park that has over six million views of a young man asking a woman to marry him. Then, you move onto the babies, where they do—they let go pink balloons or blue balloons, or it could be pink icing inside of a cupcake versus blue icing inside of a cupcake.
That’s just the beginning; because it goes from one to the next: “Are you organically feeding your baby?” “Are you breast feeding your baby?” “How many playgroups are you in?” “What schools are you going to?” “Are they learning—do they speak Spanish by the age of two?” It just keeps going on, and on, and on. So, for a parent, really and truly, there is no one you care more about than your child. There is nothing in your life you care—
Kay: —that you could do as good of a job as on your child. So, when you let everybody else define what your standard of parenting is, there is definitely disconnect; because there’s—you can’t know it all—so, every time you hear about a preschool or a team: “Did you sign up for that team? Are you on that team because, if you are not on that team, your kid is going to be left out,”—all kinds of things.
You’re going—you’re cutting to the core of something that you genuinely care about.
I did not know that parenting was an activity. I thought you were just a parent until I was one, and then, I realized it was something that you do and that you can be good at.
Dennis: I’m sorry Barbara is not here. She’d be fighting you for your soapbox at this point, Kay, because she read a book, called The Hurried Child.
Kay: Yes; I loved that book.
Dennis: It just kind of jerked us back from the comparison bit; because it occurs, athletically; it occurs, academically; it occurs around what they dress in. To me, it makes the family increasingly child-centric—
Dennis: —and it’s not just the hurried child today—it’s the hurried family—
Dennis: —trying to accomplish all these objectives that are, frankly, not achievable.
Kay: No; I’m sure you know that child-centric idea came with Dr. Spock—a lot of that focusing on the child. But even with me, as you were saying that, I was thinking about—
--- when my kids were little, how happy I was that I could serve— people would come over, and I’d serve them hot dogs with Cheetos® on a paper plate. Well, you can’t do that anymore—it has to be arranged—like a clown or Mickey Mouse. I mean, they have bento boxes for kids that—grade school lunches where—
Dennis: What? What?
Kay: A bento box is like—it actually has compartments. People go to the effort to have this sandwich look like an elephant. Then, the next compartment has all the food for the elephant—then, the circus—but the thing is—is that, as a mother—this is the problem with so much of that; because it allows me to define myself, as a mother, whether or not I do that. And so, then, I don’t want to have kids over at my house because, really and truly, all we do have is hot dogs—they may or may not be organic—and you really are getting a paper plate. And I’m afraid you are going to judge me and assess my parenting, based on those kinds of things.
Here’s where we can walk the road together. We are all feeling that—so, come on to my house, eat off a paper plate, come to my house.
It doesn’t have to be Martha Stewart—the lovely floral arrangement on my dining room table—because we’re ruining dinner parties. Nobody will have anybody over for a dinner party because they are so afraid someone might assess them according to their house. All anybody wants is to have relationship.
Kay: We were created for relationship. One of the biggest problems with all of this—and these thousands of friends on social media—is that it is very broad, and there is no depth. And so, our relationship—it may look like relationship because you have 1,000 friends or 4,000 followers on Twitter—but it is not! Do you know what I mean?
Dennis: I do.
Kay: And there’s the unsettling factor of it. Yes, our children—oh my goodness—they don’t know any different. And the training for them of what relationship is—is so critically important.
Dennis: Well, if you grow up in a home, where you are seeing this competition being rolled out every day—where mom is fretting over having somebody over and seeing real life—
—what are they going to become by the time they are 16, 17, 18, or then, in their 20s, and get ready to get married? What kind of marriage is that going to make?
Kay: I don’t know, but it is a message from society. It really is something we are all being—it is force fed / it is so beyond spoon fed—we don’t even realize we’re being fed it. When we were talking about consumerism in this, the retailers aren’t even saying, “Buy this,” anymore. They are just getting people to post pictures on Pinterest® so that you see it over, and over, and over, and over, and over.
So, there is a pair of shoes—I might see it once / I think they are cute—but then, I see them five times; and I think I need them. Then, my life is definitely not okay if I don’t have them. So, people do this through Instagram®, through Pinterest—all kinds. And it’s almost subliminal to a certain degree because it’s not in your face, which makes it hard to realize.
So, what do you do? It’s one of those things—we really have to snap out of it. And one thing I think is important is to realize that a lot of what we see is just a glimpse.
You are not seeing everything that is in somebody’s life. You are only seeing a moment. If you could go to the person, instead of the action—it helps, again, defuse our knee-jerk reaction to make it something about me instead of being able to enjoy the person in front of me.
Dennis: You may be seeing a computer-generated moment—you with me? I mean, it’s not reality—
Bob: —an airbrushed Photoshopped moment.
Kay: Oh, man—and if you want to go there—do you know that there is a selfie help app?
Bob: A selfie help app?
Kay: Yes; because, now, you can Photoshop® your selfies. And trust me, middle school girls know everything about it because they can go in and photoshop themselves in their selfie before they send it to somebody else.
Dennis: So, make themselves look better than they really are—
Dennis: —in grade school.
Kay: And it doesn’t take long—right—to go down that road because, if you do that, you’re—number one, you’re thinking that you don’t look right. And what junior high girl does—or boy?
Kay: I mean, it’s awkward and weird. So, they can airbrush their selfie / photoshop their selfie—send it out, and then, what they’ve sent out really isn’t them.
So, when they bump into somebody, their mind is going, “Do they think I don’t look right, because I don’t look like that?” I mean, it’s like the mind play has almost no end to it.
Dennis: Alright; time out. You’ve got five children.
Dennis: You’ve got them at all walks of life.
Kay: I do.
Dennis: You’ve got them in elementary, junior high, high school.
Dennis: How are you training your sons and your daughters to begin to experience genuine contentment for themselves—
Dennis: —and also celebrate other people’s accomplishments?
Kay: Well, it sounds so cheesy. It’s hard to say, but it’s true—and we do a lot of the “I am happy for you.” Say, for instance, I have a kid coming off a volleyball court or going onto the volleyball court. She’s stressed out because “I may or may not play well. Everyone’s looking at me…” I say to her: “Look at the person next to you, just for a second. Find something that is legitimate that you can compliment them for—anything. I don’t care if they can’t hit the ball; maybe, their shoes are nice.
“Maybe, their shoes match—whatever it is, say something to them.”
It works so beautifully because they do that—it trips their mind to not be centered on themselves—and everything good or bad / pride or shame—either way, my eyes are on me. If I can get my eyes off me for a second, it breathes life into the situation. And they physically feel better when it’s that way.
In the most interesting way—my kids really are not on social media. I learned a long time ago that, for us, the parental controls only went so far—as did my limitation / our limitation of time and all that kind of stuff. What really has worked is them disliking it, and they don’t like the way they feel. It’s sort of like with the one-upping on the grades. The seeking of Facebook likes / the likes—the hundred / they call it “The Hundreds Club,” which is how many—you’ve got to have over a hundred likes. And that feels horrible—like it physically feels bad.
If you aren’t doing that, and you are engaging in relationship with somebody else, it physically feels better. They are not stupid—they are going to that.
I look at them and think, “Please land on that every time.” Is it perfect?—no; it isn’t. It is part of training a kid, and it’s those seeds of truth—gratitude: “Be grateful for what you have,—the “not fairs”: “Well, get over it. It is like, ‘Think of the good stuff you have rather than looking at what they have and letting it define you as what you should have.’”
Bob: But how do you deal with those moments when you really wanted to get into this college and your friend got into that college,—
Dennis: —and you know the “C” that they just made in geometry.
Bob: —and they got a scholarship into that college, and you didn’t—you got turned down. How do you say, “I’m happy for you,” when you really are sad that—
Kay: —that “Mine didn’t get it.”
Bob: Yes; how do you deal with that?
Kay: I think that’s a very hard thing to do. I think that is one of those times, where you really do go to the Lord and pray and say, “Give me strength to be able to do this, because this child over here is your creation as much as mine is.
“Please help me see that and know that there is good in that.”
And then, I will sit there, often, because—guess what?—I’m living that today because we’ve experienced that today. It’s hard. I think: “Gosh, I’m so glad the Lord doesn’t work in ten-second increments. It’s usually in 40-year increments and that there is a much bigger story.” It goes to the whole thing of: “Do I trust Him? Can I trust Him?” If I know Him by spending time in the Word with Him to know Him, I know that He is unshakable / His ground doesn’t move. The rest of this stuff—it shifts every day.
Dennis: We, as parents, have to model this; and we have to train our children to do the same. As you were talking, I was thinking about 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, where it really summarizes what we are talking about here. Verse 16 says: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
That’s what you are really training your children to do—is to begin to realize: “I’m called to give thanks when I don’t feel like giving thanks. I’m called to pray about everything, even when I see a friend succeeding and I failed.”
You ran by it real quickly, Kay; but I really like how you summarized it. If we don’t trip up with pride, we’ll trip up with shame and guilt. It’s really learning to carefully evaluate who you are in light of who God is and go: “He’s got a plan for me. He’s not done with me.” And you don’t live the Christian life by feelings. I’m sorry—I’m sorry for myself on that one—I wish it could be by feelings, sometimes.
Kay: Oh, yes.
Dennis: It’s lived by faith.
Dennis: And faith, sometimes, has to go in the opposite direction as feelings.
Kay: That is so good, and there is an operative word in there—“in” / “in Christ”—because this stuff we cannot do. We cannot do it on our own.
If you think about a mirror—a mirror is just glass with reflective backing; okay? The way that a mirror works is through light. Light shines on it, and you see. So, if I’m standing in front of the light that’s defining—in fact, it is called a light imprint. As you reboot your mind, what light is defining what I see? Is it the world’s light that is going to let me see an image that is imperfect, and blemished, and all these things—because we are tempted to see the blemishes—but if I let the Lord’s light direct what I see, totally different—and then, it allows me to rest in that truth—in Christ / in Christ.
The prayer is the gift—if I am praying / genuinely praying, my eyes are not on me. It’s these wonderful little gifts that He has put in place for us so that it will go well with us—yes; be grateful. Get your eyes off yourself. I can’t be grateful if I am—because it’s not to me I’m grateful, and I can’t pray—I’m not praying to me—I’m praying to Him—it is like: “Do this because I love you.
“I know what your trip-up is. It won’t give you joy, but I always will—every time in every situation. There is no circumstance that is over Me.”
Dennis: If life could just be lived, here in the studio,—
Kay: Isn’t that the truth?! [Laughter]
Dennis: —it’d be so easy.
Bob: Unfortunately, we have to try to figure out how to make this work—
Dennis: —in reality.
Bob: —on the way home today. [Laughter]
We do have copies of Kay’s book, which is titled I’m Happy for You (Sort Of…Not Really) in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com if you’d like to order the book from us. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I know that recently, Dennis, you were in Miami for a great event—
—the 25th anniversary of FamilyLife’s ministry in Central and South America.
Bob: There were representatives from 20 countries who were on hand for this celebration of how God is at work in Latin America in the ministry of FamilyLife. We heard a lot about how El Arte del Matrimonio®, The Art of Marriage®, has been used throughout Central and South America and how the Homebuilders studies have been translated into Spanish as well. As you were sharing about your trip, I thought how none of us really expected, as FamilyLife was beginning, that God would take it to the places He has taken it.
Really, the reason why we have been able to extend our reach into other countries—now, more than 100 other countries / why we’ve been able to reach out to more people here in the United States—is because we have Legacy Partners and others who join with us and provide the financial support that makes it possible for us to extend that reach.
I just want to thank those listeners who are also partners with us in this ministry. There are countless—tens of thousands of people—whose lives and marriages and families are being reformed and reshaped because of the investment you’re making. We’re proud to partner with you. Thanks for your investment.
If you’d like to make a donation today, you can do that online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Or you can mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223. By the way, when you do make a donation, we have some things we would love to send to you as a thank-you gift—some prayer cards—so you can be praying for one another, as husband and wife, or how you can be praying more regularly / more diligently for your children. Look for that when you donate, online, or ask about it when you call or write to donate.
Now, tomorrow, we want to introduce you to a friend of ours, who has been working for decades in central Illinois with young men in that area, having talks with them that their fathers never had with them. A lot of these are young men who grew up in fatherless homes. You’ll meet Harold Davis, who has been helping to fill in some of the gaps for these young men. I hope you can be here with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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