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My Kid is Better Than Your Kid!

I am writing this with humility, because I am guilty of this topic. I think most moms have been caught up in a competitive parenting mindset at one point or another, though. These competitive parenting conversations range from everything from basic child-rearing practices, who delivered the biggest baby, who’s child accomplished major milestones the earliest (walking, potty-training, getting their first tooth, etc.) to who breastfed their child the longest. The funniest thing about our competitiveness as moms is that it isn’t limited to having the most advanced child. Sometimes, the competition is about who’s child gets up at night the most, who’s child had colic the longest, who’s child was the latest walker, who’s child is the pickiest eater, who’s child wasn’t potty trained until they were five, who’s husband helps the least, etc. I am embarrassed to admit that I have actually tried to one-up other moms about Connor’s horrific colic which forced me to hold him all night, every night, on the couch and to wear him all day in the Baby Bjorn. Why???

This isn’t limited to the “typical developing” world! Trumping and one-upping is very prevalent in the world of raising children with delays. When I’m around other parents of children with Down syndrome, I feel like I can let my competitive nature go wild because there is a “fair playing field” (not true) when comparing Darah to children who also have Down syndrome. Just like moms of typical developing children, these competitive conversations are sometimes about who’s child is the most advanced and sometimes about who’s child is struggling the most or has the most health issues.This competitive attitude comes out with our closest friends and with complete strangers. I believe that most parents are competitive because we all want validation in our parenting and sometimes we want the other mom to know we’re doing an ok job in parenting. When we has it harder than the other mom, we feel better that we’ve gained sympathy from the other mom or feel validated for being grumpy with our husband!

The Today Show has this article which gives five tips for dealing with other moms who are competing unsolicited. They suggest trying to understand where your friend is coming from and if she is feeling insecure about something, not allowing your friend to determine what your goals or success is, respond in noncompetitive ways and being reaffirming to your friend, refusing the urge to one-up your friend and just letting the conversation be about her, or letting your friend know how you feel.

If your struggling with competing with other moms, I suggest that you slow down and keep a proper perspective. Kids who are not living an overly structured life and have time to explore and have free play are “more creative, more self-sufficient, and less stressed than other children.” If your child potty trains at 13 months old or at 3 years and 11 months old, I am going to guess that there will be absolutely zero long-term effects. Earlier walkers do not climb the corporate ladder faster than late walkers. I have joked that my epidurals during my deliveries does not mean my Mother’s Day card is smaller!

It’s wonderful to be proud of your child and perfectly natural to engage in some minor bragging, but it’s important to try not to cross the “I can trump that” line.

How has competitive parenting affected you?

8 Responses to My Kid is Better Than Your Kid!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Kristi
    April 1, 2008 @ 8:10 am

    So true! I agree that we are all guilty of this as moms. I also believe that our “bragging” is sometimes about wanting to be heard, to share and to compare all the differences in our children.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Jenn
    April 1, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

    Very well stated, Mckenna! I know I am one of those competitive moms, but working on it. Interesting point about how we try to one up each other even with the not so good stuff. I usually keep my mouth shut about those things (with the exception of my blog), but I have heard mothers do this.

    You are right, in the end it doesn’t really matter. My teen was a genius as a toddler, now I look at her wondering, if there is anything in her head besides air. ;)

  • Comment by Sharon M
    April 2, 2008 @ 5:06 am

    I usually fall on the other side of this fence; I’m the one who seems to have the friends that like to play the “one-up” game, and it DRIVES ME CRAZY. I have one friend in particular that is like this, and (up until this article) I never thought of it as a sign of insecurity for mothers. A good insight, something I will have to remember the next time I talk with her. I won’t mention it, just keep it in mind that her trying to compare our children probably stems from her feelings of insecurity as a mom.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by myra
    April 3, 2008 @ 7:05 am

    jenn, your comment made me laugh. i think this is something that’s most prevalent with moms of young kids. i still see alot of this in my son’s play groups and he’s five!

    i think in the end we’ll all look back and see that alot of these early milestones weren’t nearly as important as the character we develop in our kids.

  • Comment by Dawn
    April 3, 2008 @ 9:21 am

    Myra, I think your last sentence is pure brilliance! Something I will reflect on for awhile…

  • Comment by Amanda
    April 3, 2008 @ 11:21 am

    I agree, Dawn, Myra’s last comment is completely true! In our parenting class they suggest actually writing down the characteristics that we want to teach our children. It really made me think about what are the three main characteristics that I want Ace to learn.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Deb
    April 3, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

    I fight the competitiveness all the time. But I think that my children can sense it and it puts pressure on them to “perform.” So it’s to their detriment, really, b/c if in our race to have our kids be the best, we’re turning them off to the very things we want them to excel at.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Nicole
    August 28, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

    Hmmm, interesting that a proud, competitive mom is seen as insecure about her parenting since typically when men are openly competitive, it’s ‘natural’ and just testosterone. Feels like a double standard and as usual women are labeling other women because we are the hardest on one another and on ourselves. I am competitive in life and I don’t see myself as particularly insecure. Perhaps I just have too much testosterone for playdates.

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