The World of Competitive Parenting
“My Hannah was potty-trained at 18 months.”
“Robert started reading before his third birthday.”
“Taylor is in the gifted program in 1st grade.”
We’ve all encountered at least one other mother like this whether at the playground, school or in the pediatrician’s waiting room. Or maybe your own mommy friends are super competitive. I know I’ve had my share of run-ins with competitive moms or what I like to refer to as “Momzillas,” (a term I borrowed from a fun novel by the same name)
Momzillas are those moms who are constantly judging each other on how to raise their kids, on everything from organic vs. regular baby food, to what preschool/school/college they should attend, to what activities they are involved in (or not involved in). These moms have no problem tearing down another mom for her choices. It’s like the middle school “mean girl” syndrome all over again — it’s Grown-up Mean Girls.
You know the type…she’s SuperMom! She brags that her child was sleeping through the night from the minute she was born, that she made her own baby food, that she never lets her child watch T.V. and that she’s having a hard time choosing a Kindergarten program because her child is so bright that the schools just aren’t challenging enough for him. She’s also the mom that constantly looks down on all other moms who don’t do things the way she does, while failing to notice that her “perfect” child just whacked your daughter over the head with a shovel in the sandbox and is now feasting on a handful of sand.
And don’t even get me started on the war between SAHM moms vs. working moms. That’s a topic that could fill a dissertation.
I am very fortunate to work from home on a flexible schedule that allows me to still be both a volunteer in my daughter’s classroom and a working professional. But several years ago, I had one Momzilla judge me very harshly for my choice to work — it was so alarming that I still remember the conversation verbatim.
When my daughter was still in preschool, this particular Momzilla, several other friends and I were chatting while our children attended a dance class. We were discussing our summer plans and I mentioned that my daughter would be attending her preschool’s summer camp so I could still work — just three half-days per week; it’s not like I was sending her to sleepover camp at age 3. But you would’ve thought I was sending my preschooler off to war with the reaction I got – Momzilla berated me for my choice, saying there’s no way SHE would ever send her kids to day camp all summer, completely ignoring the fact that I had to work and she did not. Nevermind that my daughter loved her summer day camp and asked to go every day!
There are so many other encounters since then that I’ve had with other Momzillas, although none quite as upsetting and rude. For the most part, I’ve learned to shrug it off and then laugh about them with my real, non-judgy friends.
But the real question is why do moms have to be so competitive with one another? Why can’t we just support one another? While we may choose to do things differently, in the end, don’t we all just want what’s best for our children?
What I’ve come to discover in my brief seven years as a parent is that moms judge each other because we’re all insecure about the choices we’re making. Even those mothers who seem perfect and brag non-stop about their equally perfect children, are really, under the surface, just as worried that they aren’t doing this whole parenting thing right.
So maybe we all need to take a look at ourselves and how we treat other parents, whether it’s our close friends or the mom you only see at PTA meetings. If we were easier on ourselves, maybe we could go easier on each other.
Cristi Driver works as a copywriter at a Winston-Salem-based ad agency. She is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Piedmont Parent Magazine, Go Triad, News and Record, The Rhino Times and several other regional parenting magazines and websites. Cristi lives in Greensboro, N.C. with her husband Michael, a Realtor® with RE/MAX of Greensboro, their seven-year-old daughter, one crazy cat and one very elderly dog.