Are We Competitive As Parents?


I have a competitive streak in me.  You can ask anyone that I work with, or play beer league softball with, and my wife this and they will all agree.  We set a goal for fund-raising at work, not only do I want to meet that goal but I want to blow it out of the water.  If we are up by one with only one at-bat left in the softball game, I am the one who wants to be in the circle staring down the batter to strike out.  Where I have a problem keeping my competitive nature away is in parenting.  I want the Kid to be the best at everything he does.  I want him to put other kids to shame.

Competitive Parents - The Rookie Dad

It seems that parenting brings out the competitiveness out in all of us.  How many times have you heard this conversation…

“My son starting walking at a year!”

Oh yeah, well my son started walking at nine months!” (my son may or may not have started walking at nine months… oh and was potty trained at two)

See there I go again, just trying to prove to the world that the Kid is better than most.

So many parents compete to see when their children learn the alphabet, count to ten, or can read a book.  It’s instinctive to be competitive but at what cost when it comes to the development of our children.  Is that drive to be smarter than Johnny sitting next to your child at daycare really helping you sleep at night?

I catch myself doing this with other parents of children who are the Kids age.  I can’t help it!  I love to brag about him.

It doesn’t seem to stop at just seeing who’s child is better than the other. There is the question of parents of multiples also thinking they are better parents than parents with one child.  This is something that I don’t quite understand.  Just because you have three children qualifies you to be a better parent than me? It might make you a better schedule keeper, making sure all three of your children are where they need to be on time.  A parent who only has one child is just as much a parent as the parent with three.

There is also the parents who “hand out” advice to other parents as if they are an expert.  Or the parent who says, “well my son doesn’t act that way.”  in a very snobbish tone.  Parenting isn’t a competition; our children will grow up to excel at the things they want to excel at.  It is our job to steer them down the path that will lead them to excelling at what they want to excel at.

The thing that I struggle with the most is that the Kid doesn’t have to be the best in the eyes of others as long as he is the best in the eyes of my wife and me.   That is really what matters the most.  There is no reason to get jealous over some other kid who can hit a baseball further than the Kid.   If that is the case, that is OK, the Kid will be the one throwing a 90 MPH fastball past your son in the big leagues someday.

See what I mean, it is very difficult for us to stop competing as parents.  Not only that, but it is equally as easy for parents to compete amongst being better than the other parents down the block.

I say this and at the same time I’m dreaming of the college basketball scholarship he will be getting to the University of Kansas.

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About The Rookie Dad

I am husband and father foremost. Secondly, I am a PBS producer and contribute to Traveling Dads and Dads Round Table.

Posted on March 25, 2014, in Parenting and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I think about this sometimes when I write about my son. I occasionally get a comment from someone who reads the way I write lovingly about him and sign I believe he is somehow better. Nope. He is the one I have, and thus the one I have to write about. I revel in his accomplishments but don’t confuse them with my own, though I am hopeful about the part I might have played in any act of compassion he performs. I try not to engage in the competition, but am sure I have done so regardless!

    • This is something I have thought about too. I don’t think just because I write a blog that I am better than every other parent or the Kid is better than anyone else. It is very difficult to sometimes hide the competitive nature in us.

  2. I am a competitive person myself and so many times have to catch myself, or be reprimanded by my wife, when I start worrying that he might be falling behind another child his age. It’s a struggle I don’t think I’ll ever get over it’s just something I must keep in check and not instill upon my son. Competition is good, but basing your worth (or child’s worth) on what they can and can’t do compared to others is detrimental to your relationship with your child.

    • I think this is where parents as a whole could improve. We base ourselves and our child’s worth on how successful our children are and sometimes our view of success is different and success should be looked at objectively.

  3. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m just as competitive as well. But honestly, when you have a kid that is pretty genuinely exceptional, it brings out your competitive nature I think. My son is just a cutie, good-natured kid – but my daughter is pretty brilliant and has always been precocious. As such, I couldn’t help but brag when she was potty-trained before other kids twice her age, when she started riding a bike at four, etc. It’s tough.

    I think part of it being able to communicate your excitement about your child’s development while at the same time being sensitive for the feelings of others whose children may not be progressing as fast – and who also OF COURSE want their kids to be doing awesome things too. Some things are best to keep between you & your wife and NOT mention to the other parents.

    • It is also the tone you have when you say those things. Sometimes you can show genuine excitement others can so just arrogance.

      • Yep – I think the tone and intention behind the communication has everything to do with it. I think, also, one can step back and look at what you’re saying & posting on facebook from the viewpoint of your friends. Like, are you actually trying to get one of your best friends to acknowledge, “Yes, I agree. Your child is better in all ways than my child. My child is dumber than a mud fence and yours is brilliant.” Hopefully not.

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