Dr Amanda Gummer Says...
Dr. Amanda Gummer has dedicated her life to working with children and families in a variety of settings since 1993. As well as running a family support charity in London and teaching children...
Competitive parenting – how to NOT play the game!
You’ve read the books, listened to your parents’ and in-laws’ advice and feel that you’re starting to find your feet with the whole parenting lark, you may not be super-mum of the year, but you’re doing an ok job...
Then WHAM! You meet up with your old NCT group and find out that little Johnny and Josephine are already enrolled into baby massage classes and Harri smiled at 2 weeks, Nishita is already sleeping through the night and suddenly you feel like crawling back under the duvet and taking your little one with you, and not emerging again until they’ve passed puberty!
This is how competitive parenting starts… and it just gets worse.
So what can you do to ensure you can benefit from the support and advice of your peers, without buying into the whole competitive parenting agenda?
It seems obvious, but it’s all about confidence and that comes from within you. Seek advice and information from sources you trust. Then make your own decisions about how you want to run your family. Once you’ve done that, it becomes easy to accept that everyone has different situations and value systems and understand that what works for one family might not work for you. This tolerance and acceptance will make you more open to others and they will stop trying to point score (at least against you).
There may well be one or two mums in your group of friends who can’t stop themselves from relating little Jonah’s latest achievement and detailing all the wonderful parenting activities that she does to help him develop. If you can see this for what it is – seeking attention and validation to overcome insecurity in her own parenting skills - you will be able to support her and not fall into the downward spiral of competitive parenting!
Most importantly – don’t let stories of other mother’s lives and her children negatively affect your life. Focus on your children and making sure they are happy, then it won’t matter what their peers are up to.
Do you have to deal with competitive parents? Do you ever feel yourself slipping into the trap? Let us know how you deal with other competitive mums and dads.