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to feel threatened by this competitive parenting?

(178 Posts)
Winged Thu 17-Mar-16 09:57:42

This concerns a friend I've known a couple of years. They have one DC, I have two, one the same age as friend's, one younger. They don't go to the same school.

I really like my friend, we have a lot in common and have a very similar sense of humour. They've also been there for me a lot over the time I've known them. There is just one thing that really bothers me - they think the sun shines out their DC's backside and love to tell me about their achievements quite often. Sometimes it's probably warranted, other times it's over the most mundane crap that all DC do.

My DC are academically bright and have their own talents but I'm not the type to show off or tell people other than my immediate family really. However, after I separated from their abusive father, my DC (the eldest in particular) are experiencing some severe emotional problems and I'm struggling to find the right help. They have hobbies and interests but as my ex is next to useless, this all falls to me and it's tiring. Life is stressful for me for a multitude of reasons and I feel this adversely impacts the opportunities my DC have. My friend is well aware of our circumstances and been witness to some of our problems.

Obviously it's parents evenings at many schools right now and my friend told me that their DC is overachieving in every area. Last parents evening, friend told me that their DC's teacher had said their DC along with one other in the class was the brightest and doing the best. Their DC also does a sport and has apparently been told that they could be a pro one day they're so good at it. My friends circumstances are very different. They share care much more with their XP and as they both earn more, are able to offer more to their DC.

I guess if I'm brutally honest, I feel jealous. I'm so worried about my DC and how they are coping right now. I worry about their future opportunities and my friend telling me this just exacerbates this. Their DC is a lovely kid but normal in that they misbehave sometimes although my friend seems oblivious to much if this and in all honesty, their normal child misbehaviour pales against my DC's lashing out due to the problems we've got with ex etc.

It's making me want to sever the friendship but I feel like I'm being unreasonable and I shouldn't begrudge my friend wanting to share their pride for their DC. What does it say about me that I can't stand it?

So, Aibu about this? There is a twist to this story but I'm not sure how relevant to the problem it is and I don't want it to cloud the answers. I will reveal all later though.

MangoBiscuit Thu 17-Mar-16 10:04:46

If she's a good friend, can you not just talk to her about it? Tell her about your worries, tell her how happy you are that her DC is doing great, but tell her how much it hurts having to compare the two all the time.

curren Thu 17-Mar-16 10:06:25

Either reveal it in the OP or don't.

In regards to your question though. I don't think it's about being unreasonable. Some parents brag. It's just how it is.

I don't brag even though my kids do very well at school etc. My best friends dd is in my ds class and is autistic. I feel it's insensitive. When she asks I am truthful. But I know how hard see finds it.

Your friend may not be aware how much impact having a crappy ex is having on your life now and is being braggy and insensitive imo.

gandalf456 Thu 17-Mar-16 10:10:14

What sort of teacher says 'your child is overachieving in every area and the brightest in the class?' In all the parents evenings I've been to over the years, I have never heard of that. They are usually quite cagey in revealing where your child sits compared to others. They don't like it. Even if mine were doing equally well, it would put me off her because it makes her sound like a twat.

AppleSetsSail Thu 17-Mar-16 10:11:37

I have a 'friend' like this, frankly she's incredibly charming and hilarious and I'd be extremely keen on being really good friends with her if she didn't have this fatal flaw.

As it is, I keep her at arm's length because she is incapable of sustaining an evening out without talking at great length about how talented/smart her children are - what's worse is that it's all couched in faux self-deprecation. I cannot tolerate it.

It sounds as though you're invested in this friendship, so I'd just lay it out on the line for her and tell her that she's displayed some lack of empathy and self-awareness - you've got nothing to lose.

Sheezus Thu 17-Mar-16 10:13:31

You nailed it when you said you're jealous.
I think your friend is just making conversation. It sounds like you feel down and dwelling on your own situation and feel envious. Maybe?

AppleSetsSail Thu 17-Mar-16 10:13:34

What sort of teacher says 'your child is overachieving in every area and the brightest in the class?'

Yes. I've been through 10 years of parent-teacher conferences and there is one meeting in all this time where they are absolutely forthright about your child's place in the pecking order, and that's to discuss secondary schools. Other than this, they are cagey.

AppleSetsSail Thu 17-Mar-16 10:14:26

I think your friend is just making conversation.

Really bad conversation. 'Isabella's teacher has just told me that she's at the top of the class!'. Best kept to one's self.

DropYourSword Thu 17-Mar-16 10:17:02

I don't think it ever helps to compare your life, your relationships, your kids etc to someone else. You know the full extent of your circumstances but only what the other person chooses to reveal about theirs.
I don't think it says anything about you that it winds you up that she brags. I have friends who do similar, I make a game of it to stop myself eye rolling or lashing out!

FranHastings Thu 17-Mar-16 10:17:16

She must be incredibly insecure if she feels the need to brag about them. I don't think I'd want to continue the friendship.

I agree it would be extremely unlikely for a teacher to say that. I often see these posts on fb and am extremely doubtful this was said.

I had one similar thing at a younger age, whereby the parent was competitive over how many teeth the babies had, what shoe size they were and how tall they were. hmm I phased them out.

My Mum had a friend who used to boast about her DC. My Mum used to get very annoyed, but keep quiet because she said she knew it wasn't true and that was enough for her. Despite the annoyance, they've remained friends. My Mum is considerably more tolerant than me.

BertPuttocks Thu 17-Mar-16 10:17:48

I agree with Gandalf. Teachers just don't say things like that! They may make statements like "Bobby is above the age-related expectations" but nothing about overachieving or comparing them to the rest of the class.

With that in mind I would also be a little suspicious of what their sports coach has apparently said.

VocationalGoat Thu 17-Mar-16 10:19:01

You're not being unreasonable in the least.
You're just going through a terribly difficult time which results in you feeling inept probably in many areas of your life...NOT because you are inept in the least but because your priority is your children and your love for them, at the moment, isn't enough to make things better... to make all of the troubles go away. You can't magic away their struggles. They have to go through this pain and you're guiding them through it as best you can. But honestly, who the hell navigates smoothly through troubled waters? None of us do. All of us feel inept as parents most of the time and divorce highlights our vulnerable spots.

I imagine your friend has her own the insecurities and she masks this with a façade or maybe she really is plain old arrogant (which is ignorance's bedfellow)!

I've been there OP, through divorce, dreadful times with the ex, poverty, and motherhood all in one heap and it absolutely sucks! It does. You're at a low but you won't always be, believe me. The thing is, you need, more than ever, to be elevated and celebrated. You need a supportive shoulder, not a showboat friend flashing her amazing parenting 'skillz'.

I let go of a few friends during my hard times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. There's so much truth to that saying. Your friend isn't sensitive enough to your needs. Nor is she realistic. Wouldn't it be so much easier if you could both just vent and compare notes and have a good moan with honesty and sincerity?

I continue, as you will too, to meet lots of lovely friends who sadly, I choose to downgrade to acquaintances if they're just too much into their mission of perfect parenting/perfect kids. I may get flamed for this, but I can't deal with big egos. When you've been kicked around and your kids have struggled alongside you, your business becomes all about getting back into living a fulfilling life and finding your tribe.

Find your tribe, hang with kindred spirits, kind And know that these troubled times will be a distant memory.

DonkeyOaty Thu 17-Mar-16 10:20:07

Any chance you could ease her into second circle of friends where you see perhaps monthly rather than daily/weekly?

starry0ne Thu 17-Mar-16 10:21:38

I would personally take what she says with a pinch of salt.. I often see FB about how amazing parents evening was and I know from my own Ds that these children are not excelling or not behaving well.

My friends who do have high achieving kids are the ones who are very quiet about it.

I would guess she is missing out the bits she doesn't want to share..

Branleuse Thu 17-Mar-16 10:22:17

eurgh, boasting is so tiring and annoying.

I dont mind hearing it if the child has been specifically struggling and made great strides etc, but otherwise outright boasting like that is just weird. Why would she even say it when youve got kids the same age unless its to either make you feel bad, or shes just spectacularly insensitive.

exLtEveDallas Thu 17-Mar-16 10:22:29

I know that my DD is at the top of her class - but her absolutely fabulous teacher has never said that.

She's told me how well DD is doing, how hard she works and how pleased she is with her - but she would NEVER compare her to other students in that way, and she knows that I know the class 'ranking' so to speak. It would be completely unprofessional of her to do so and I have no doubt that it would lead to complaints from other parents.

Neither would I say anything of the like to my friends or other parents in the class - the most would be something like "yeah we are happy, she's working hard". There is no need for crowing or boasting about a child's academic ability - some kids are bright, that's all. It doesn't make them better people.

I would take anything your 'friend' says with a pinch of salt, and probably keep her at arms length for a while.

brujo Thu 17-Mar-16 10:27:44

'Isabella's teacher has just told me that she's at the top of the class!'

I've never had a teacher be so blatant in positioning - top group usually as far as they go. Plus it's meaningless it could be a really behind class.

I've overheard one parents making this claim - next year she was snipping at us as one of my DC was in the top set and her's wasn't therefore it couldn't the top set - her DD was being integrated as to positioning and groups and she was TALKING to the teacher to sort it out hmm.

As long as your DC teachers are happy with progress or have plans to help your DC improve I wouldn't worry and I'd try changing subject with friend or put some distance there if their behaviour is making you feel so bad.

MerryMarigold Thu 17-Mar-16 10:30:25

Yeah, my dd's teacher said she was 'perfect' (slight exaggeration!).

I don't think any teacher would reveal that a child is top of the class. Is this a state school?

I think your friend sounds very unempathetic. If you value the friendship I would be honest with her, and tell her your worries about your dc and the effect the split has had on them.

Also, note to yourself. Only children get a lot more poured into them. It is a fact. They have other stuff to deal with, but in terms of academics and hobbies, there is no-one to share a parent's attention, money and time with. I have 3 kids - poor things are so disadvantaged! But they enjoy each other now, and I am sure/ I hope, will continue to do in the future. I am sure glad I had a sister.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 17-Mar-16 10:30:50

I always think people who talk like this are looking for validation and they probably have something else in their life making them unhappy and doing this makes them feel better about themselves. That goes for all boasting.

Still fucking irritating though! I'd ignore it. It isn't a competition and really, nobody cares when they're applying for university of their first job just how brilliant their mum teacher thought they were when they were seven.

Smile and nod. Feel pleased you aren't a shameless boaster but whatever you do don't make this a competition because it isn't.

Is the twist going to be the child really isn't doing so well? Because that's not unusual and actually I'd much rather see parents over sharing, over exaggerating their child's achievements and being ridiculously proud of them than the opposite. Of course somewhere in the moderate middle would be nice but we're all different and so long as it's not harming the child I'd forgive it.

ElsaAintAsColdAsMe Thu 17-Mar-16 10:31:13

I feel your pain, I left an abusive relationship and some of my dc have real problems, it's an achievement to get my dd into school without a meltdown these days.

I seem to be the go to person at pick up time for parents who feel shit about their little darling because theypercieve my dc to be 'worse'.

I have a few stock phrases that I use, but it's irritating to say the least.

In your shoes I would probably reduce the time I spend with her, or every time she starts boasting just say 'yes I remember you telling me already' and change the subject, she will soon get the hint.

When trying to get help for my dc I've found the head teacher at our school has been my most valuable person, she is really on the ball with getting help from various agencies, she has actually been better than the children's mental health team around here.

Pantone363 Thu 17-Mar-16 10:33:40

Bullshit the teacher said that. Utter bullshit.

AppleSetsSail Thu 17-Mar-16 10:35:07

I've overheard one parents making this claim - next year she was snipping at us as one of my DC was in the top set and her's wasn't therefore it couldn't the top set - her DD was being integrated as to positioning and groups and she was TALKING to the teacher to sort it out

Jesus wept. What the fuck is wrong with some people? Who would actually suggest that a set could not be top because their child was not in it? You might actually think these things, but why must you verbalise it?

phequer Thu 17-Mar-16 10:35:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

brujo Thu 17-Mar-16 10:38:57

I had a "friend" who went on about what a great reader her daughter was and asking my DD1 how she was doing and what book she was on - she knew my DD1 was struggling knew we suspected dyslexia.

I was always fuming as DD1 was already self concious.

I shut such conversations down and avoided her like the plague - though she could be sneaky waiting for us. She had problems though - guilt about working not working working pt - every combination she tried and an undermining DH.

Sympathetic though I was I really wasn't prepared to have my children's confidence further damaged - the quiet words I had with her didn't seem to have much impact.

So if this boasting is in front of the children I'd be avoiding even more.

AppleSetsSail Thu 17-Mar-16 10:39:21

Is the twist going to be the child really isn't doing so well? Because that's not unusual and actually I'd much rather see parents over sharing, over exaggerating their child's achievements and being ridiculously proud of them than the opposite. Of course somewhere in the moderate middle would be nice but we're all different and so long as it's not harming the child I'd forgive it.

It's completely possible to be ridiculously proud and exaggerate your child's achievements while never discussing them with friends. I don't understand why some people feel that I have paid for a babysitter and come to an expensive restaurant so that I can hear about their child's standardised test scores. Surely this is what your husband/wife/partner/MIL/mother/sister is for?

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