to discourage competitive parenting

(55 Posts)
seoladair Fri 04-Jan-13 19:14:00

This is a trivial issue in comparison to many of the problems on this board, but I would appreciate some wise MN advice.

My oldest friend and I had our babies 6 days apart. It was lovely to share our experiences during pregnancy and early motherhood. We live far away from each other but keep in regular touch by text and see each other occasionally.

Now the girls are 19 months, I feel she has started to get a bit competitive. She doesn't mean any harm, and is a lovely person so I want to deal with it tactfully.

Example - she wants to set up, in her words, an interesting experiment whereby we both try to teach the girls to play Twinkle,twinkle on the piano every day as part of their daily routine. At the end of a few months, we meet up to see which girl is better at it. (I said no to this.)

Today she texted me to say she had had a proud mummy moment when she explained to the mother of a 3 year-old that her 19 month-old can recognise numbers from 1-10. Apparently the other mum said her 3 year-old can't do that.

I haven't replied yet, but will probably just say "well done, that's great." and am unsure what to say. I want our girls to grow up as friends, and really don't want this element of competitiveness to spoil things. My little girl can recognise letters on her alphabet board, but I don't kid myself that it means she can read - she's just doing it spatially.

My friend is so thrilled to be a mum, and I don't want to be churlish, but I am keen to nip the comparisons and competitiveness in the bud while the girls are still little. Please advise....

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 04-Jan-13 19:17:31

Just don't engage with it,say "oh that's lovely,well done x" and move the conversation along.

MrsRajeshKoothrappali Fri 04-Jan-13 19:18:01

I wouldn't bother replying.

Competative parents are exhausting.....!!

Euphemia Fri 04-Jan-13 19:18:07

Text her "Really? Chimps can remember the location and order of a set of numbers in less time than it takes the average human to blink."

wink

No, really - just don't indulge her.

seoladair Fri 04-Jan-13 19:19:12

Mm yes, but then she comes back and asks me what my daughter can do. I think it's so boring to recite a list of her words and activities!
Maybe I should just say that she's really slow!

seoladair Fri 04-Jan-13 19:20:54

That last message was to Alis.
Mrs and Euphemia - thank you. I think I will ignore.
It's strange - she wasn't competitive at all at school; quite the opposite in fact.

parakeet Fri 04-Jan-13 19:22:26

It sounds like she's a good friend so why not be honest with her? Just say, with a smile on your face, something mild like "Watch out, your turning into one of those competitive mums, ha ha."

Is she actually being competitive? If she is then YANBU

But she could be like me... Prepared to be told IABU, lol I'm just constantly amazed by the little people that my DCs have become, and all the new things they can do, and more new things each day blush
I don't mean to sound competitive or showy offy if I speak to friends about them (I actually try to avoid it as much as possible anyway, as I know how gushy I must sound!) but I genuinely am interested in what their DCs can do too. I think its fascinating.

<backs away to netmums with my two bubs>
grin

seoladair Fri 04-Jan-13 19:28:26

Yes, I think she has no idea. It could be an idea to say jokily to her that she's becoming "one of those mums".
Beyondthe - that sounds right. She is incredibly proud in a good way, and just needs to rein it in a bit. That's why I want to stop it tactfully, rather than crushing her and hurting her feelings. I think I will just ignore!

werewolvesdidit Fri 04-Jan-13 19:28:50

My DS2 could read when he was about 2.5 (just CVC words) - I told my SIL and she gave me a dirty look smile - her DS of similar age can barely talk so I think she was annoyed with me for mentioning it.

Perriwinkle Fri 04-Jan-13 19:29:31

I think that you should just be honest with her and say "look xxx, I really don't want to engage with this whole comparing thing, I want the girls to grow up as to be friends like we are and to be able to appreciate one another's similarities as well as differences". Perhaps you'll also just have to add that you appreciate that this may come across a bit like you're getting "funny" with her but you feel you have to say it because it's how this is making you feel and it's best to get it off your chest now. If she's your oldest friend you should really be able to talk to her frankly.

I actually ditched one of my oldest friends a few years ago because she got on my wick so much. Not for this reason specifically but it was still loosely to do with her being so up herself. It wasn't a particularly easy situation but I weighed it all up and came to the conclusion that life is just too short to spend it being pissed off about stuff like this. Like your friend, she lived miles away from me and we were no longer particularly close so I figured that we both had plenty of other friends to be going on with.

I think that's the way I'd play it anyway. There's absolutely no point in you sitting back and going along with all this if it's getting you down because I can guarantee you, this sort of thing will only get worse the older the children get. Nip it in the bud before it really gets going and if your friend decides to take umbridge about it, that's her problem.

seoladair Fri 04-Jan-13 19:30:10

Beyondthe - Netmumsy sparkles to you! You haven't told us how many years, months, weeks, days and minutes your "bubbas" have clocked up....

JingleUpTheHighway Fri 04-Jan-13 19:30:30

I would be a bit annoyed at the whole piano teaching thing - your girls are not on show !

Just don't indulge her . Agree with the others - say that's good and move on.

My SIL is like this - it drives me insane - if I say anything, you can guarantee that her DC will have done more or even that she won't allow her DC to do that and give some stupid negative points grrr! angry

Anyway - smile , acknowledge and move on .

werewolvesdidit Fri 04-Jan-13 19:30:53

BUT if someone else were to tell me that their child could do something my child couldn't I would just think 'Wow that's great'. People seem to get very shitty if someone 'shows off' about their DC but sometimes you just want to share with people that your child can do something well. I have sadly realised that it usually annoys people sad

HumphreyCobbler Fri 04-Jan-13 19:33:21

the fact that she wanted a COMPETITION between your two DC pretty much rules out innocent enthusiasm for her child's achievements.

She sounds a bit like hard work to me. If you choose to continue your friendship then I would never ever offer any information about what your child can do.

Perriwinkle Fri 04-Jan-13 19:37:47

Another thing I'd like to add is that it's all very well parents "being constantly amazed at what their little people can do" and feeling the need to keep telling others about it but people have to aware that this can, and very often will, come across to others as incredibly boring and boastful.

The best way to play it I feel is to restrict those lovely "sharing moments" about your child's achievements to telling other close family members (your partner/parents/inlaws/) who will be just as thrilled and impressed as you are. If people notice things about your child they will often ask you about them and that's the time to answer any questions they might have - in a modest way.

As your children get older it's a valuable skill to learn because it enables you to teach them about being modest too.

No one likes a show off in any walk of life and a surefire way to ensure that your children are not liked by other children is to instill in them that they should keep sounding off about their achievements.

bluebiscuit Fri 04-Jan-13 19:59:36

I do have a bit of sympathy for the friend. It is good to know what your dc's peer group can do so you know where your own DC is. I am interested in what reading levels the kids in my ds's class are on so that I can see approx. whether he is top/middle/bottom in class. In fact, he was near the bottom so I have been helping him at home to rectify this. Now he is nearer the middle so I feel that I have made a difference by helping him and it has also made him more confident.

That said, it is pretty shocking that she wants to set up this piano competition for a 19mo. That is ott and I am surprised she had the balls to ask! It might calm a little as her dd gets older (?). If it is troubling you, then you will have to say something to her. The fact is that you can train little dc to do things (generalising it is easier to do with a girl) and there's plenty she could train her dc to do. There

everlong Fri 04-Jan-13 20:04:48

19 months old..piano?!? <shakes head>

bluebiscuit Fri 04-Jan-13 20:10:42

I do have a bit of sympathy for the friend. It is good to know what your dc's peer group can do so you know where your own DC is. I am interested in what reading levels the kids in my ds's class are on so that I can see approx. whether he is top/middle/bottom in class. In fact, he was near the bottom so I have been helping him at home to rectify this. Now he is nearer the middle so I feel that I have made a difference by helping him and it has also made him more confident.

That said, it is pretty shocking that she wants to set up this piano competition for a 19mo. That is ott and I am surprised she had the balls to ask! It might calm a little as her dd gets older (?). If it is troubling you, then you will have to say something to her. The fact is that you can train little dc to do things (generalising it is easier to do with a girl) and there's plenty she could train her dc to do. But it doesn't really achieve much at this age. And the dd should be playing instead really.

Another point is that DC will choose own friends. You might want your dds to be friends but they will have to decide that for themselves.

3smellysocks Fri 04-Jan-13 20:11:54

She will really cringe when she looks back on her behavior.

LuluMai Fri 04-Jan-13 21:04:22

A "proud mummy moment"? Boak! She sounds nauseating.

Perriwinkle Fri 04-Jan-13 21:05:35

I totally diasagree that you have to nose into what level other children in your child's class are at. If you want to know about your child's progress - ask their class teacher who is, after al,l the the person best placed to express a professional and well-informed opinion on where they are at and what can be done to encourage or assist them at home, if they need it.

It has never ever occured to me over the years to enquire about what other children are up to (either from their parents or from a class teacher) in order to assess my own child's progress or abilities.

It is none of my concern what other children can do.

I also have strong opinions on these "altruistic" parents who supposedly give up their free time to go into their child's class to listen to the children read. We all know that this is simply a vehicle to see what their own child is up to in comparison to their peers.

WhoPutTheDickOnTheSnowman Sat 05-Jan-13 02:49:24

My best friend had her PFB late 2011 and she is just ridiculous.
I let her get on with it until Dc was about 14 months and then had a frank discussion with her. I said I loved her, loved the baby but she had to realise that she is really isn't the only woman in the world that thinks her child is wonderful - we all think that.
I also gently reminded her that we have lots of friends with DC that are having health issues or developmental delays and while I don't give a hoot any more (as I have heard it all really and it's water off a duck's back) they may be more inclined to start engaging with her again if she emerged from her own arse a bit. You don't love your baby more than anyone else loves theirs, other people just have other things to talk about as well as their DC.

She was one of those that would hijack any FB status with the baby - the worst one was a friend announcing the date of their mother's funeral and she had the lack of self awareness to say 'oh no, that's DD's birthay, does that mean you won't be coming to her party?' and then wondered out loud of they could change the funeral plans - seriously.

It can be a favour to point out that you are doing yourself and your child no favours and to keep to the 'there's a time and a place' rule. Most people will enjoy talking child at the appropriate time and then move on; most people will be thrilled child is doing XYZ if it is discussed positively and without the, usually insecure, trill that they are somehow a supergenius universal wonder.

Is she insecure or worried about anything? Or just a bit insulated in her own small mummy bubble?

Ignore, see if she'll get over herself, doesn't sound like it, have a frank but kind chat and see how it pans out. My friend is getting shedloads more support and engaging child conversation now she isn't being a dafty. Good luck.

Arseface Sat 05-Jan-13 03:17:15

I have a lovely friend who does this. She adopted her son when I had DS1 (13) and was told her DS might have all sorts of issues. He's thankfully fine but her natural anxiety led her to compare and become pretty competitive.

Would feel incredibly cruel pointing this out to her so I've always either sidestepped it or wrongfooted it by laughing affectionately about something my DS is rubbish at (football usually).

If I haven't seen her for a while she will get into it again but it's easy to stop without hurting her feelings. Just don't feed the beast!

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