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How To Cope With Competitive Parenting

Mere days or even hours after hearing those initial cries of your firstborn and it inevitably begins. Someone’s baby is “easiest”, sleepiest, biggest, the best feeder. There’s nothing like hearing other new mums around you discuss their 6 week old sleeping through the night to make you feel like a failure. One mother feels she is accused of making a rod for her own back by co-sleeping while eyebrows are raised as another is viewed as heartless for pursuing a strict routine. The competitive parenting can begin from day one and is such a shock for new parents who until this moment have gone about their daily lives without constant judgment and evaluation. Social evaluation in this highly personal but also public area of our lives can trigger feelings of anxiety and low self esteem.



Each parent loves their child and is proud of their achievements so of course we are thrilled for them when they tackle something that’s been a real struggle for them. But when we’re boasting about something that has come very easily to them or is really more about what we have done than them then we enter the realms of the competitive parent. 

And what purpose does this attitude to parenting serve? Yes it might make someone feel good to share that their 18 month old is already potty trained but does a desire to do everything fastest, or to have the cleverest or most well behaved child really do anything positive for the child? So the parents who haven’t achieved this feel bad and then defiantly boast that their kid is wild, that they wore pyjamas for six months after they gave birth and haven’t hoovered for 7 years because they’d rather play with their kids than bow to the pressures of societal norms. None of us can be the best at being every type of parent and nor can our children be the best at everything they do.




So how what can we do when we encounter competitive parenting? Is competitive parenting just another example of women being encouraged to be critical of one another? So how can we turn this around? If we can show someone kindness, understand that their boasting most likely stems from insecurity, then they may begin to follow the example and reciprocate the kindness.

Every parent is trying their best and let’s face it, there are times when our best isn’t really that great. But ultimately, all that we can do is what is best for our child, our families and our own mental health at that time. Often there’s isn’t much choice in that and rather than judging whether someone else’s parenting is “good” we could be supporting each other through something that is incredibly difficult and important for all of us.




Blog written by Mary Reay for Yummikeys. 



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