It’s not an official event, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Competitive parenting has likely been around as long as parenting itself, though it seems that this generation is facing it in new and pervasive levels. Parents must constantly resist the urge to compare their parenting (and their children) to other people’s in order to form a judgement about themselves (or others). The things you do for your children, or the things your children end up doing are the gold, silver, and bronze medals of competitive parenting, and the craziest part is – you may not even know you’re competing.
3 Ways You’re Participating in Competitive Parenting
Comparison. You already know this, but it’s nearly impossible not to do! You look at the soccer mom who packs her son an organic lunch every day and is never late for carpool, while your kids ate cold pizza for breakfast and you forgot about dance practice. That dad coaches every one of his kid’s sports teams and takes them on international vacations, but you fall asleep during family movie night. Or you might even compare your kids! It’s hard to not feel bad when your son needs math tutoring but his best friend is nearly fluent in French. By continuing to compare your family to other’s you’re unknowingly participating in this competitive parenting.
Judgement. On the flip side, are you biting back a smile or gossiping with your neighbor about how Diane’s kids need haircuts so badly or that Mr. Know-It-All’s son didn’t get into his fancy alma mater?Sometimes it feels very gratifying to see that other parents don’t seem to have it together as much as you do. It’s nice to feel like you’re a better parent than someone else, but… does it actually MEAN you’re a better parent than someone else? Just like there’s way more going on behind the scenes when YOUR kid shows up without their band uniform, it’s important to remember that other’s have the same “behind the scenes” complications, too. Don’t let competitive parenting (or other similar parenting mistakes) allow you to judge others to feel more successful.
Overcompensation. This one is probably the trickiest, because it’s easily disguised with the best intentions. We often participate unknowingly in competitive parenting by trying to do more, have more, and be more. If your sister’s kids are taking music lessons, well then maybe your kids should too! You feel bad that you have to work late on weeknights, so you plan an entire adventure for every single weekend. Every parent wants what’s best for their child, but this sometimes leads to overcompensating and trying much too hard – usually feeling the pressure from competitive parenting.
If you’re feeling the strain of competitive parenting in your life, rest assured that you are not alone. There is help for parents and families who are sick of the competitive parenting rat race and need a place to turn. You and your children can thrive without the pressure and comparison.