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Can We Please Stop the Mompetition?

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 8 14

Competitive Mothering Brings a Whole New Meaning to the "Mommy Wars"

It begins as an innocuous comment at the park when you hand your children a snack in a plastic sandwich bag. “Oh, you let your children eat Cap'n Crunch? We don’t eat foods with high fructose corn syrup or preservatives. Only organic, fair trade treats for us! And we never use plastic bags, only containers that we wash with the rainwater we gather in buckets outside our house.”

Or maybe the comment arises as you wait outside school for afternoon pick-up. “Joey made the Level A travel soccer team! All of that extra money we spent on private coaching lessons three times a week has really paid off!” brags his mother.

Joey, mind you, is in second grade.

Welcome, one and all, to the world of mompetition, a place where anything your child does, mine can do better and also did it at a much younger age.

For those of you who are not living in the land of the mommys, mompetition is where one mother makes her kids out to be the best, brightest and end all and be all of the world, while yours is just average or maybe even slow. There are no age boundaries in the competitive world.

This is So Funny Because it is True!

How Did the Mompetition Begin?

From the beginning of time, there have been mothers who have bragged about their children’s achievements. From “my son, the doctor” to “my daughter married a doctor”, past generations boasted about how well their children have done for themselves.

But that is far different from modern society.

In the 1980’s we had the “mommy wars” where stay-at-home moms and work outside the home moms were in constant battle at who was the better woman. The mother at home argued that it was bad to leave your children in the care of others (although women have worked since the beginning of time and others cared for their children). Mothers employed in the workforce declared that they would not waste their brains or their hard earned college degrees to “just” be a stay at home mom. They were losing their career and economic gains.

But as the recession reared it’s ugly head, more women found themselves at home whether they wanted to be or not. Others, after having their children, chose to stay home, but needed an outlet for their competitive nature. They had to have everything be the best, including their children.

In addition, the fact that some of the most highly educated people cannot find employment in this job market is a scary thought to parents of young children. They want to give their kids a leg up on the competition, no matter what the financial, emotional or physical costs are. Their line of thinking is “the earlier my kids start, the better they will finish.”

Hence that is why soccer leagues for toddlers and dance classes for two years olds are now the norm in many suburban areas.

Mompetition

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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No matter how you choose to feed your baby, someone is going to judge you. No matter what preschool you send your kids to, there is an even "better" one where they are not attending. Of course, your pediatrician is the best.

Give it up!

Take a chill pill and realize that even if you don't bake organic snacks for your child's class party, but buy it from the supermarket, you are doing a good job.

The Psychology of Mompetition

Mompetition is not Good for Anyone
According to Roberta Roth, CSW, a psychotherapist in private practice in White Plains, New York, she blames the women’s movement of the 1970’s on today’s environment of competitive parenting. Women were told we could have it all and do it well. [1]

Work outside the home? Great! Make sure that you schedule your personal days for your child’s field trip and not a needed day off for yourself. Don't forget to stay up until 1:00 am making sure that the cupcakes are decorated perfectly so that the room mothers at the party won’t judge you for not being there to help.

For stay at home moms, especially those who have children in school all day, have you ever been asked “What do you do all day?” To prove that you are indeed productive, besides growing organic vegetables and herbs in your garden, you volunteer on six different committees and upcycle old tee shirts.

This constant need to “prove” yourself is physically and mentally exhausting.

There are other mothers who had less than perfect childhoods, so they are making sure their kids have the best and miss out on nothing. These women never miss a practice, spend way too much time at school, and have their children in all the activities they wish they could have taken. The pride in how “busy” they are is evident in their conversations.

Roth also hastens that parents need to be made aware not to say competitive statements when children are in earshot. They need to know that they are loved for who they are and not what they do.

And if mothers were honest, the competition is also about them. Hair must be perfectly coiffed, makeup applied and your body needs to resemble the way it looked before pregnancy stretched it out of proportion.

Women try to out fab each other with their so-called perfect lives.  Perhaps this is because the woman is not getting enough recognition for the job she is doing at home, she has to share with everyone how great a mom she is.  Can you Tweet that or post a Facebook status on just how great a mom you are?

Mothers are constantly judging each other, and if we choose to participate, it can get ugly.

Personally, I refuse to step into the crazy.

And it does not stop as your children get older. Which SAT prep class your child is taking, how many colleges your child has toured and how many scholarships your child has amassed is a part of the mompetition in mothering teenagers.

Before Motherhood Confessions

How to Deal With Mompetitors

You do have options!

Unless you are living in a vacuum, at some point, whether you like it or not, you are going to meet a mompetitor. Here is a real life example:

One day at school pickup I was speaking with another mom about the field trip I was on with the first grade classes that day. The kids saw the Junie B. Jones musical and they were all delighted. I shared how my twins loved her books and we read them all the time.

“Oh, I am glad they enjoyed it. My kids aren’t into those kinds of books, they are reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.”

These kids were 4 and 6!

I walked away. That is one way to deal with a woman like that. Disengage from the conversation. If you cannot walk away, steer the conversation into another direction that is not kid related. Chances are she likes to talk about herself.

Another method is to stroke the woman’s ego. “Wow, that is amazing! Congratulations!” After all, that is exactly what she is looking for.

You can also have a few responses prepared, like this one, “How do you do it all? Be sure to take care of yourself of you may get sick and then you won’t be able to drive Tiffany and Jordan to all of those lessons!” or “Isn’t it great that our children have so many wonderful things in their lives!”

Moms are not perfect-no one is. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Here is my advice:

Do not pay attention to Facebook, it is a shiny happy airbrushed lie of someone’s life.

It’s okay to serve mac and cheese for dinner.

Confession-when I worked full-time, I used to serve my daughter veggies and dip as dinner, along with cheese and crackers. She survived.

I use plastic baggies for snacks as it is easier than washing six different containers every day.

I only dust upstairs when absolutely necessary.  Who sees it but me?

Go ahead, judge me. I won’t join in on your game.

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Comments

Sep 13, 2013 7:39am
jayfs
Haha, great article. You should create one on how parents try to compare siblings/cousins with each other. Mine do and it's very annoying.
Sep 16, 2013 5:28am
mommymommymommy
Thank you, jayfs. I would not know about comparing siblings, as I never experienced that nor do I do that with my own kids. Sounds like an article you can write!
Mar 6, 2014 9:10pm
RoseWrites
OMG, I loved this . . I won't participate in the "crazy" either. I'm really annoyed by the stereotype of the "working" mom. We are all working moms - whether you stay at home or not. I wish women supported each other more. To "have it all" (or look like you do) requires some impossible feats of strength and lack of sleep. It's okay if the house isn't perfect. Pinning this gem. Thank you for a sensible, commonsense article.
Mar 7, 2014 8:11am
mommymommymommy
Thank you, RoseWrites. The older I get, the less patience I have.
Sep 10, 2015 8:02pm
HollyPerez
I totally agree! Great comment!
Sep 26, 2015 10:16am
Browna86
Kind of reminds me of an article from a business magazine about mothers balancing work and home life. I'll admit, I don't like to vacuum (the cleaning of the vacuum itself) nor dust for that matter but do it when I can barely see the surface I'm wanting to place something on.

@jayfs that comparing children and family thing is annoying in itself and really shouldn't be done at all.
Mar 8, 2014 5:31am
Ddraig
Oh you have so hit the nail on the head!
I think the only way not to be affected by "mompetition" is to step away from those women in the first place.
I always make sure I encourage and compliment friend's children for what ever they achieve or attempt.
The mommy battle about SAHM and Work out of the home moms is still ongoing.
Mar 8, 2014 5:37pm
mommymommymommy
Emma, thank you! I do walk away, in fact, I stopped picking my children up at the school and met them halfway home so I could avoid these insipid conversations. There will always be battles between SAHM and WAHM because each thinks the other is wrong.
Sep 10, 2015 8:06pm
HollyPerez
This is awesome! Thank you! All of us will save ourselves a lot of grief by just enjoying things as they are sometimes. I think that when we stop trying to make every little thing so perfect, we are a little more enjoyable to be around too! I think high-strung mamas usually end up with high-strung kids and spouses...we really affect our family's mood by our own mood. Kudos to all you mamas out there for working so hard, whether at work or at home (if you're on this site, I know you're workin' really hard too)!
Sep 25, 2015 5:52pm
mommymommymommy
I totally agree! If mama ain't happy-no one is happy! Thanks for reading!
Sep 25, 2015 6:21pm
Marlando
THis is an extremely insightful article--two big thubs and a rating from me
Sep 26, 2015 4:58am
mommymommymommy
Thank you, Marlando!
Sep 26, 2015 10:08am
Browna86
As soon as I read this 'Dance Moms' came to mind. The moms would constantly talk about how much their girls loved dance but in private conversations with the girls, it was evident that not all the girls were pleased and wanted to do something other than dance.

The thickest book I read at age 6 was The Cat in the Hat. It still baffles me why some moms do what they do and try to figure out, years later, why their child is the opposite of what they raised them to be. I don't have kids myself but did assist in raising my nephew.

Didn't know the situation was as bad as this though. However; that Facebook thing did bring to mind this mother who publicly shamed her boys for not cleaning their room. Result? They got in trouble because they were attending a school that was outside their area of residence.

It was a complex story and many parents weren't too happy too see nor hear about the story. Really enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing.
Sep 27, 2015 3:53am
mommymommymommy
Yes, it can get this bad...and I am not even a sports or dance mom (great analogy, BTW). The older I get, the less patience I have. This is why I am happy to be out of the mommy jungle. My contact with other mothers these days is with my friends.
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Bibliography

  1. Shelly Thacker Meinhardt "Competitive Parenting Keeping Up with the Jones’ Kids." www.babyzone.com. 16/08/2013 <Web >

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