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Avoiding competition with other couples

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:12pm
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Proud parents love to talk about their babies…

"Our little Jake is already holding his head up. He's only a month old!"

"Oh, your daughter's not rolling over yet? Cynthia started when she was only 3 months."

"I never had to worry about looking for the pacifier. My son would suck his fingers and calm himself down—practically from the time he was a newborn."

You’ve probably heard some of those yourself, or maybe even said them. All parents love to talk about their little one, however, when moms and dads brag too much to other parents, they can bore and alienate otherwise good people. Plus this can add stress—for them and their baby.

All babies are unique and each parent’s relationship with their child is unique.

Your Baby vs. Their Baby

While your delight and enthusiasm over your baby may be hard to contain, remember—children each develop at their own pace. Some skills emerge early, others show up later. There is a very wide range of what is considered to be "normal development."

Some babies achieve most of their milestones at the early part of their age group; others—at the end. Unfortunately, many parents whose babies are late bloomers worry about this, wishing their baby could be first at least part of the time. So, when sharing your pride with other parents, keep tabs on whether your enthusiasm is welcomed and shared. If their baby isn't developing as quickly, this might create some distance between you and your friends, making the other parents feel like you're competing with them.

And if you’re the parent of a late bloomer?  “Be sure to show your child your amazement at her strengths. Point out her accomplishments to others. The late bloomer gets enough attention from people who notice that she's developing more slowly. You can boost her confidence by taking notice of what she does achieve,” says Palmina Ioannone, a Child Development expert.

The Pressure of Pleasing You

Maybe your baby is only a late bloomer in some areas of development. Competing with other parents over any type of development puts pressure on your baby—the pressure of either pleasing you or disappointing you. Your baby is finely tuned into you, the parents. Even before he can speak, he can pick up on your disappointment and worry. Bragging to other parents adds pressure to your baby, not only to perform, but to risk disappointing you—even with the most basic things, like sitting or standing alone.

So be proud and amazed at your baby's development! Don't lose sight of just how astounding infant development is. By all means, share your discoveries with your family and friends but stay away from unhealthy competition.

Parents know their own child the best. Remember—developmental milestones are only guidelines. If you have any concerns about your child's development, by all means consult your child's physician.

Too Much Good Advice

Many parents turn to one another for information and advice. Frequently, the person or couple you trust the most has more experience than you, or are just ahead of you on the parenthood track. Most parents are very happy to pass on their hard won tips and tricks. However, sometimes unhealthy competition arises among couples around what each considers to be "proper" parenting. A heated conversation can result from even silly things, like whether you should take your baby to the mall or not or whether it does any good to read to your 1-month-old. And, of course, there's often competition among couples over larger parenting decisions, such as whether your baby sleeps in the same room with you or whether you're breastfeeding or not.

Guard against feeling inadequate around more experienced parents. These days, everything parents learn, they learn on the job—and that's how you're going to learn, too.

There is no one way to parent. We are a multicultural society—with a large number of parenting values and approaches. Appreciate the variety that Canadian parents bring to their role. Every family is unique. We can learn from each other.

Have you ever dealt with any of these issues? How did you handle them? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!


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