I’ve had several discussions about Wednesday’s guest post by Katie Grimes on Compeitivie Parenting. (Click on the link and read it if you haven’t already.) She did a terrific job defining the issue. But, now that we’ve defined it, how are we supposed do we handle it. Here are a few ideas to help avoid buying into uber-parenting. (Please tell me your kids “uber” everything. Hilarious…)
So here you go… the Top 5 Ways to Steer Clear of Competitive Parenting:
1) Admit it. Okay – seems trite, but really… how can you stop something that you don’t admit to doing. Here at the MOAT, you all are so sweet to let me bare all – I’m a recovering enabler, procrastinator, controller, grammar hacker … and yes Uber-Mom. I may not be winning medals, but I’ve done my fair share of going over a highlight reel of a Wyma kid accomplishment. Is it because I’m really excited for him/her … or is it because I want my friend to know we’re on the right track. That’s really the question. MOTIVE! The WHY am I sharing. Hmmm… Might have something to do with a little Psalm 139 “search my heart” action.
That’s the first place to start. A big old piece of humble and honest pie, recognizing and admitting.
If I find at the end of that piece of pie that I am in fact uber parenting… I need to get on my knees, then get in front of a friend (a real friend) that can help me and hold me accountable. Because uber parenting is doing nothing for my kid and nothing for me (probably more than nothing – it’s setting us/them up for some serious issues down the road)
Once I’ve admitted it… I can go to the next step,
2) If I’m in the presence of an uber-parent delighting in and reporting about their child’s glory (“Oh, you should have seen Joe score those goals”, “Can you believe he got into Harvard … and Princeton .. and Stanford…”, “Oh, Sue’s going to Homecoming with Bart. Did I mention he’s the quarterback?!”)
Don’t bite … When the bait is dangled say these words – and do your best to mean them, “I’m so happy for you”
It might take several times before we actually mean them, but sometimes (most of the time) action goes before feeling.
3) Don’t stir it up
We need to do our best to let it sit rather than go for the one-up. It’s SOOOOO hard, but better in the long run.
4) Keep jealousy at bay. Other parents showering us with “my kid’s so great”s are coming. Lots of time with good intentions, so get out the armour and stuff the jealousy. It goes back to the “I’m so happy for you.” If we can genuinely be saying that, then jealousy just might take a back seat where it belongs.
5) Friends! Real friends that can help you walk the road. Have at least 1 or 2 friends with whom you can be completely honest. Probably not someone with a kid the same age. Maybe an woman older and wiser than can “remember when” b/c this isn’t anything new. The competition things is as old as the hills.
6) Why stop at 5 :) … Steer clear of the Super Uber – the ones that just can’t stop themselves. Don’t get them out of your life, but know it’s coming and make sure you can handle the competition coming your way.
… Then remember that behind competitive parenting is a mom or dad just like you/me (it might be me!…please tell me if it is :). Someone who loves their kid. Someone who wants more than anything to be a good, supportive parent. Someone who has bought into this world’s obsession with our kids needing to be the best at everything. Someone who is spinning wheels to keep up with the Jones, feeling pressure and trying to live up to a standard.
Real compassion begins there. I tell my tween/teens … the same thing. We’re all hit by it daily.
If we do find ourselves uber parenting … it’s probably a good idea to make sure we don’t in front of our kids. Not only will they start to buy the message that they are super amazing at all they do, they’ll think we expect it.
We live in a competitive world. But the Lord directs us to “be in the world, but not of the world.”
Thanks for navigating the competitive road with me.