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Competitive parenting. It could be a national sport for as much as it is practiced. Whether you are in the supermarket or out on the local playground, everywhere you go Uber Moms are waiting to face off in the Momolympics with their little two-year-old geniuses who can speak three foreign languages, do calculus word problems, consume three pounds of kale and find a solution for world hunger all in a single sitting.

competitive mom

Competitive Mothering -- The New Olympic Sport

Breastfeeding. Potty training. Sleep habits. Diet. Education. Television. Toys. Competitive parents have an opinion about everything and they are more than willing to share it with you, which would be fine if sharing was their only motive. But, in fact, their true motive is to make you feel inferior in order to hide their own insecurities.

How many times have you been suddenly sideswiped by perfectly manicured talons of Alpha Mom during playgroup when you thought you were just having friendly conversation? "Oh," she says while eyeing your child who is currently having a standoff with the broccoli served at lunch. "Did I tell you that my little Ashton just LOVES vegetables? I just can't keep enough edamame and brussel sprouts in the house for him."

Or the lady who you met while casually standing in line at the grocery store, "Oh really? You only breastfed for three months? That's probably why your baby has that terrible cough now."

Nobody's Perfect -- Not Even Alpha Mom

Truth be told, it's really quite easy to fall into the trap of competitive parenting, because deep inside, we all want to think we are good parents. We work hard every day to make good choices and raise our children according to the highest standards. We educate ourselves about the differences between organic and conventionally grown foods. We try to set good limits and boundaries for junk food, television, video games and media exposure. We spend hours researching the best ways to potty train or get our child to sleep through the night.

The problems begin when we put other parents down in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. Parenting is not easy and viewing it as a competitive sport just makes it that much more challenging. Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, explains why new mothers may feel the need to compete with one another. "When women are in a transition mode -- which can happen when they become mothers -- their identity shifts. This can get some moms to second-guess themselves and their lives. When new moms question themselves, some use competitive talk as a way to bolster their shaky self-image."

Stand Your Ground

When we understand the competitive vibe as just another manifestation of parental anxiety, which we all suffer from occasionally, it is easier to know how to handle Uber Mom and her kale-munching nursery school genius. Rather than getting sucked into defending your child, say something encouraging like, "Wow. That's great." And then keep on trucking. There are plenty of supportive moms out there with whom you can form friendships where you can build each other up rather than tear each other down.

Click below for more on competitive mommies!


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Comments

Comments on "The dirty truth about competitive parenting"

KLZ January 02, 2011 | 1:45 PM

I actually think competitive parenting is insulting and undermining to ALL of us.

Suzanne at wearebothright.com November 22, 2010 | 8:53 PM

You are so right. Competitive parents do this just to feel better about themselves. If we can all respect each other's right to raise our children the way we feel is best, and that it has nothing to do with anyone else, we'd all be better off. A friend and I (who have differing parenting styles) realized how much we could care less about our differences, and started an anti-Mommy Wars site (wearebothright) -- would you believe our husbands are still worried we won't be friends anymore?

parentingadabsurdum November 22, 2010 | 9:09 AM

Honestly, I think I'm the anti-competitor - I attribute my kids greatness (don't get me wrong, they truly are THE BEST kids in the entire world) to themselves, and wonder at my own less than fabulous parenting...but that's clearly my own dysfunction speaking!!

Mommy Crib Notes November 21, 2010 | 6:06 PM

Umm, I think sometimes I may be a competitive mom because inside I want to shout blast everyone with how great my kids are and how much work I'm putting into it. I hope that most of that stays inside of me and I don't get the rep of being an alpha mom. Especially when I think back to a newly pregnant co-worker who told me, because I was pregnant the second time while she was pregnant for the first time, that I needed to put down my vending machine chips and "feed that baby some fruit." I was 8 months pregnant and could have clawed her face off.

Shawna November 19, 2010 | 10:31 AM

I am a stepmom & I have this issue. We take the kids somewhere & BirthMom has to go above & beyond or take them to the same place. It's also turned into buying the kids love, they get whatever they want from her. We don't do that, the kids have to earn their toys & fun trips. We just say oh that must have been fun & keep on truckin' as well! So happy I'm not alone!

Christine November 19, 2010 | 9:41 AM

LOVED this...off to HootSuite to post for Sunday! Finding friends...TRUE BLUE friends that don't compete and will tap, tap ,tap you on the shoulder if you are starting to is the answer. Try truebluematch to find some of those great friends.

erin margolin November 17, 2010 | 3:47 PM

Naomi---LOVE THIS! You're amazing. You're spot on. We all want to be good parents and sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking others aren't doing a good job so we feel better about ourselves. I admit it---I occasionally do this in my head, but I'd never dream of calling someone out or saying something to another mom. But I'll readily admit that the only vegetable Abby eats is corn and she is a little hag. I can't control her. She's sweet as cotton candy for everyone else, but for me??? She acts out. So there. I'm not mother of the year. Plus? My kids' are always sporting dirty faces and stained clothes.

Mayra Calvani November 17, 2010 | 12:54 PM

Your articles keep getting better and better. Great post! Thanks! Mayra Mayra's Secret Bookcase

Amber November 17, 2010 | 11:32 AM

Naomi--once again, you've nailed this issue. I love how I come over to your blog (or anywhere you guest post) and find something entertaining and instructive. Thank you for reminding all of us that competitive parenting is useless. I know that I fall into this trap as well, but I am consciously trying to remember that I'm not perfect--and either are my friends. However, building each other up is so much more important than tearing each other apart.

liz November 16, 2010 | 7:50 PM

I can honestly say that there haven't been extreme alpha moms that I've come in contact with on a regular basis.

Mandyland November 16, 2010 | 7:39 PM

Personally, my children have been quoting Shakespeare since they were a year, can play Mozart on the piano and harp, and, of course, eat everything I put on their plate. Oh. Wait. That's right. I'm also delusional. Great article.

mommakiss November 16, 2010 | 7:13 PM

there is so much that could help new mothers, experienced mothers...let's just help and support each other. it would make the world go round.

Truthful Mommy November 16, 2010 | 6:34 PM

Awesome post! Uber Moms, there is no such thing...all there are is Mommies trying to get by and if she appears to have it all together she just hasn't gotten to her breakdown yet or is between breakdowns.Parenting is hard work and we all need to try to foster sisterhood through Motherhood, so we can have support in our times of need. We dont need another person in our lives to make us feel guilty!

Dawn Webb November 16, 2010 | 11:52 AM

Great insight. Wow, that's great is a perfect answer to any mom who has a child that eats kale, brussel sprouts and broccoli without a second thought. Please tell me your secret, lady... I'm all ears!!!

London City Mum November 16, 2010 | 11:40 AM

Wow. I'll just keep on trucking then. Oh, and Junior? You're fired. LCM x

Jillian November 16, 2010 | 9:20 AM

I consider myself lucky that my kids go to a school where the parents seem to gel together in one dysfunctional mold where there is no room, or time, for competitiveness or perfection. Otherwise, I'd have to move.

Heather November 16, 2010 | 8:37 AM

riiighhhttt, so you're saying that stamping on her foot with your stilettos *isn't* the best way to react? I clearly have much to learn.

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