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."
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.