Competitive momming is a problem, a big problem. It feels as though we’ve lost our villages, especially when everyone on social media seems to be playing the one-upsmanship game.The thing is, competitive parenting isn’t new, it’s just that we see it a lot more.
Feeling as though life is a competition can lead to some pretty bad problems with depression, especially for new moms. Here are some ways to deal with it when it comes up – whether in person or online.
Ask yourself if the person is actually trying to compete.
Sometimes, what we take as competition really isn’t. A mom may be socially awkward and may be trying to relate to you. Others may be trying to share something that they’re excited about, but it’s not translating that way on social media, or the delivery is off.
Sometimes, too, when we feel someone’s trying to compete, it’s really more about ourselves. We might feel that we’re lacking in some way or another and misread the intent as snarky. It’s important to try to see through what’s being said to what’s being intended.
Ask yourself why the person might be trying to compete
Might the individual in question be experiencing feelings of self-consciousness or guilt him or herself? This can cause people to be more competitive than they ordinarily would be. For example, a mom who is feeling guilty about having her child in day care because her family is trying to shame her for working or who is self-conscious because she’s a stay-at-home mom and getting flack about not working may come off as more snarky than she intends to if she’s put on the defensive.
If you feel that the person may be acting in a competitive way from a place of vulnerability, validate his or her claim, then complement the person on something that she’s doing well.
Don’t feed the troll
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a situation where a parent is one-upping others or maybe you. Joey did great on his spelling test, so Debbie feels the need to comment that her Chandler got skipped a grade ahead, and Alison states that her Gina is homeschooled and working at an 8th grade level at age 7.
Don’t give into the impulse to pile on. Yes, maybe Alex just got another belt level in karate, but does it need to be said? Instead, go back to the original focus, Joey, and tell his mom to congratulate him on the good work he’s done.
The pile of stuff competition
I see this every holiday season, and it’s something that personally makes me nuts. A parent either posts about not giving kids a bunch of toys, or sticking to 4 gifts, or posts a photo of an overstuffed Easter basket or overflowing Christmas tree. People pile onto the original poster and attempt to shame the person into doing things their way.
No matter how bad you might want to, don’t add to it. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if you’re an extreme giver or a four gifter or you do no gifts at all but experiences and others do differently. What does matter is that what your tradition is makes you and your family happy.
Watch your own urge to compete
It’s natural to want to show off your child, but remember, your child’s achievements belong to him or her, not you. It’s one thing to share those achievements, it’s another to brag about them.
Before you comment on someone else’s post or announcement with a competitive bend, ask yourself if you’re really adding something to the conversation. It may be better to instead congratulate the person and save your own announcement for another time.
What have you done to reduce competition?
What actions have you used to reduce competition when you’ve seen it? Have you found something that works well to de-escalate the situation? Share in the comments.