Are you a competitive parent?

I wouldn't say I am all that competitive but I sometimes feel like I've ended up as a participant in Project Offspring.  I didn't know that I was entering a competition when we decided to have kids.  I naively thought I was just having a few kids to create a little family.

Oh no.  How little I knew.  It all started at my first mother's group - 'How many hours is he sleeping at night?  How often do you feed him?' and we were off and running.

I'm not a person who thrives on competition.  I sometimes wonder if I'm a little bit alone on this.  I like to achieve but I don't find being in a competition very empowering.  In fact the opposite - I feel quite deflated by it.  I've never been a star - never the best academically, never the best at music, never the best at sport.  Always pretty good but never the best.

Am I unhappy about this?  No.  I mostly feel fine about my mediocrity!  I don't mind not being the star.  And I don't mind if my kids aren't always the best at everything.  In my thinking - I don't expect them to always be the best.  Try hard, work hard - absolutely.  But always be the greatest?  Well, no.  It seems unrealistic to me.

I feel genuinely happy that my son came second in a speech competition this week. He was happy with the result, I was happy that he worked hard.  That's OK ... I think.

Or is it?  Maybe I'm supposed to be fighting harder - complaining that the adjudicator wasn't fair, that the other kid was favoured??  (I don't know - I wasn't there).  This is what I see going on all the time - but I don't get it.  I just kind of don't relate to it.  So I'm guessing it must be my personality.

The thing is - I feel like if I'm not fighting for my kids about something that it looks like I don't care.  But I do care.  I'm fascinated by them and happy to bore anyone to tears talking about them. I just don't see it as a competition or a long term project that I've entered into.  It's a relationship - and come what may I have to love them through it.  Whether they're the star or not.


stuss said…
Oh, I have the opposite problem to you! I am very competitive, and any suggestion that someone else's child is 'better' than mine and it's like a red flag to a bull! I have to remind myself regularly that all children have their strengths and weaknesses, including my own.
Jenny K said…
And this is why I like reading your blog! You sound like me. I can be competitive but when I'm not fantastic at any one thing I don't expect my children to excel, just do their best and not give up! I'm not the mother up at school regularly explaining what needs to change to make my child happy. I will talk to teachers if warranted (maybe 3 times in the last 10 years!) but mostly I praise them regardless, ask if they did there absolute best (or if perhaps it could have been partly their fault is they get in trouble!) and then we move on.
Fiona said…
I had a funny moment with friends recently. Our daughters had competed in two very different fields over the weekend. Theirs came fourth, and the whole family was devastated. Mine came fifth: we were so happy for her! She was so pleased with herself, and told everyone she met. I think it's personalities.
Motherhugger said…
I'm not fussed about how my children fare in competition, but they are very concerned that the processes be fair. I talk to the teachers at school because I'm there, and I know them, but I'm not pushing for my kids to win anything.
If I'm in a mummy competition it must be for slacker mum. If my kids are achieving at the moment it is in spite of what I'm doing. I'm busy with my own interests and goals - there are still things I'd like to achieve for myself. My kids can take care of their own business with school work. They don't want my input anyway. It's the relational stuff that I'm useful for (other than cooking and cleaning up)- talking nicely about people, being understanding and accepting. And modelling that when people want to gossip.
Heather said…
I can tend to be highly competitive for myself, but, as a parent, I think it depends on what your priorities are. J recently won something where we told him off for his lack of sportsmanship and he was consequently unhappy with his performance. He was also knocked out in round 5 of a regional competition and we were really thrilled by his behaviour and he was pleased with his performance. This was more the result of us valuing good character and sportsmanship, than to do with the results of the thing he was competing in. ( It was spelling - I think an upright character matters much more than good spelling)
Sarah said…
I'm sure your kids just appreciate you being there for them and celebrating with them along the way (I know I would). I can't comment as a parent, but as a kid, I know I didn't want that pressure to be the best all the time. I think because of their own lack of talent/opportunities, some parents see their kids as their last chance to 'live their dream'. I was my mum's great hope to go to uni and become a teacher because she never had the opportunity herself. Well, you can imagine her reaction when I said I never want to teach kids and chose to do what she saw as a lowly arts course instead.

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