Dealing with obnoxiously competitive mothers

Get yourself out of a sticky social situation, and learn to avoid the mean mommies on the playground.

Dealing with obnoxiously competitive mothers

Get yourself out of a sticky social situation, and learn to avoid the mean mommies on the playground.
  • Alpha-mothers, mommy police, tiger moms. Whatever you want to call them, competitive mothers exist, and they can take you from feeling like wonder woman to utter failure in seconds. How can you cope with competitive mothers without losing your sense of self? The first step is to consider the motives behind competitiveness.

  • Why mothers compete

  • Parenthood is the hardest job on the planet. Babies do not come with instructions, and parents face hundreds of decisions about their children every day, some of which have far-reaching consequences. Even the best parents question their decisions; wondering if they are making the best decisions for their children.

  • Unfortunately, some parents handle this stress by obsessively justifying every choice they make. These moms become so convinced of the rightness of their parenting philosophy they lose perspective. In reality, there is no one right way to parent. Decisions that are right for one family may prove disastrous for another.

  • When a mother convinces herself that her way is the only right way, she can fall into competitive behavior. It takes a lot of work to continually affirm a decision, so competitive mothers seek affirmation. Every success a child has becomes, not a victory for the child but vindication for the mother.

  • Why mothers brag

  • Bragging stems from a mother's need to convince others what a good job she's doing. What comes across as blatant self-promotion is actually rooted in insecurity. Overcompensation with parental perfection can often be traced back to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt.

  • However, getting a competitive mother to admit to self-doubt probably isn't going to happen. Protecting self-image is an important quality to competitive mothers, and their motives for competing might be buried very deep. You are not going to win a one-upping contest with a competitive mother, so don't even try. Getting into pointless conflict leaves everyone feeling bad.

  • How to deal

  • You won't convince a competitive mother the error of her ways, so what can you do to deal with competitive mothers? First, and most importantly, be secure in your own decisions. When we feel good about our own decisions, we feel less of a need to justify our actions to others.

  • If you find yourself threatened by competitive mothers, take stock of your own parenting decisions. Do you feel good about your choices as a parent? Keep reminding yourself that you are the best mother for your children. No one can parent your child the way you can, and no mother can do a better job than you raising your children. It's easier to shrug off the mean mommies when you feel good about yourself.

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  • The best way to fight competitive mothers is being a good example. Make an effort today to act like the kind of mother you want to see in the world. Take a few minutes and commit to:

  • Being humble

  • about your own accomplishments and giving credit when you succeed by taking someone else's advice.

  • Don't gossip

  • Make a conscientious effort to never badmouth another mother, and avoid mothers who thrive on putting others down.

  • Look for the good in all parenting styles

  • Changing your mind. Look for the good in all parenting styles, use what you can and don't be afraid to change your mind as you and your family grow.

  • Complimenting others

  • Lift other mothers up by sincerely complimenting their children and their successes. Everyone wins when we lift each other.

  • When groups of mothers commit to kindness, everyone benefits. Competitive mothers exist, in part, because we allow their behavior. If we change the current culture of mommy relations, they will disappear. Not so long ago, it was bad manners to incessantly brag about your child and put others down. We can return to that kinder, gentler time.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.


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