One of the first things I noticed as a new mom is the atmosphere of competition that often exists among parents. It begins a few innocent comments on the size of your baby bump compared to other moms (bigger/smaller/pointier/rounder…), turns into comparing the size/weight/length of your baby, and eventually becomes endless questions on when your baby first sat up/crawled/walked/talked. It doesn’t help that we’re inundated with information on what to “expect” at different stages of baby development in books, parenting magazines, and on the Internet. How can we help but check our child’s progress against these sources and compare his/her progress with the other children we know?
I think the key thing to remember, is that these guidelines are meant to do just that– guide you. They are not meant to dictate how every child will progress. If you chose to read or refer to these guidelines, do so with caution so that you don’t become obsessed with comparing your child (and other children) against them. More than anything else in this journey of parenting I have learned that each child is unique and each family different. As such, I have no right to judge any other parent out there, nor their decision about how they chose to raise their child.
Similarly, if you chose to take a certain approach in raising your child, please don’t impose it on other parents or assume that it is the best approach for all families. Our circumstances as parents are unique, like our children, and you really should not compare one family (or child) to another. To prevent an atmosphere of competition from developing among my mommy friends, I really try to be open, accepting and supportive of other moms instead of critical and judgmental. I’ve realized that we should spend more time talking about the areas of parenting that we struggle with, rather than just bragging about our child’s accomplishments. Though important milestones should be celebrated, it’s important to recognize that sharing these can easily cause other parents to become anxious about their own child’s progress and feel like they’re not succeeding as a parent. On the other hand, sharing our struggles helps everyone! Sharing our burdens can help to lighten our load while helping others who are also struggling to realize that they are not alone. Plus, it breaks down the atmosphere of mompetition, replacing it with one of empathy and mutual support.
There’s a great video on this idea of mompetiton, if you haven’t seen it already you HAVE to watch it…check it out here: “Why I Can’t Make Mom Friends”. And if you notice that you’re starting to sound like either of those moms… let it be a warning to you to cool down the mommy-competition!