In the wake of the Varsity Blues Scandal everyone is asking the question – how did modern day parenting get here? Obsessive-compulsive behavior in parenting is nothing new. However the terms used to describe it have evolved. First there was the “Tiger Mom”, which morphed into “Helicopter Parenting” and now this has turned into “Intensive Parenting” – the latest and greatest of crazy parenting behavior.
No matter what you want to call it, all of these names equal competitive parenting. A competitive parent feels like their child is the center of the world, and they do everything in their power to prove their greatness to everyone else. They deem themselves a “Winner” in life if their beloved precious child excels at speaking mandarin, while playing the cello, and also crushing it on the tennis court. It exhausts me just thinking about it.
If you feel like you are struggling to keep up with the Joneses, it may be time to ask yourself whether you have crossed over from being an attentive parent to a competitive parent. My advice to you – slow down and say “No!” to competitive parenting!
Here are my top tips on how to handle this crazy train:
Self-awareness is your first step at calming down and stepping away from the competitive parenting game. Ask yourself these questions about your child:
- Did you rush your child between two activities in a short amount of time?
- Did you scold your child for missing a goal?
- Did you argue with your partner over differing opinions regarding extra curricular activities?
- Were you excessively yelling during your child’s school game?
Then ask these questions about YOURSELF:
- Are you resting your hopes and dreams on your child and putting too much pressure on him?
- Are you trying to bolster your own self-esteem?
- Do you feel inferior to others?
If you answer yes to more than one of the above, you may be a competitive parent and it’s time to rein it in!
Step Away & Manage Your Peers
It’s difficult to step away from competitive parenting while your mom community is being competitive as hell. However, you must extract yourself from negative vibes, and focus on being a nicer and kinder person (the world will thank you!).
Here are some practical tips on how to handle other competitive moms:
- Develop a mantra – Say to yourself, “No, thank you, all that matters is what is happening in my family” and walk away from any competitive parenting conversations.
- Ignore, ignore, ignore – Spread good karma by ignoring the “Comparing Carries” of this world. Keep your mouth firmly shut, and allow your friend to think her mothering is better than yours. Rise above it because it truly does not matter.
- Divert the conversation – If your friend is being overly competitive, tell her that you love her and her child, but, you’d prefer to talk about what shows she’s enjoying on Bravo instead. Divert the conversation to neutral territory and move on.
- Have a sense of humor – Laugher is the best medicine. Laugh it off!
- Break up – If the above doesn’t work, then you need to break-up with your friend. Bye, bye Felicia! Your bragging brings me down. Pruning your friendship circle is no bad thing.
Understand The Difference between Competitive and Over-Competitive
Wanting your kids to excel in life is not a bad thing. Giving them the best opportunities in life and feeling pride over their achievements is A-Okay, too. However, there is a difference between healthy competition and over-competition. If your parenting style is taking a toll on the psychological development of your kids, their life perceptions, and their relationships with other kids and parents then you have a problem.
Understand the importance of healthy competition – encouragement, pride and attentiveness is great, but you need to explain to your child that every family is different, and everyone excels at different things. Their sense of self-worth (and yours) shouldn’t come from competing with others.
Re-Connect With Your Child
It’s time to relax, mamas. Parenting is not just about winning. It’s about connecting and truly enjoying your children. True happiness comes from appreciating yourself and your life, just the way it is. So go ahead, focus on what’s great about you, your surroundings, and your child. True happiness is an inside job.
Let go, mamas. You do you! Focus on your little monsters and make sure you hug, smile and laugh together on a daily basis. Those competitive parents can go take a hike.
About the Author:
Eirene Heidelberger is a nationally-renowned parenting expert and founder of GIT Mom (Get It Together, Mom!). Through GIT Mom’s 7-step method, Eirene empowers mothers and mothers-to-be by teaching a “mom-first” parenting approach. She is the only parenting coach in the country who advocates parenting techniques that puts the mother’s needs center stage.
As a mom of three boys, Eirene has experienced the same overwhelm and anxiety most mothers first feel with their children. Her firsthand experiences inspired her to create GIT Mom, which has been embraced by hundreds of moms around the world. Eirene is a mom motivator, parenting champion and an all-round expert. www.gitmom.com