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Competitive Parents

Some people are more competitive than others, it's a fact of life. I have to confess that I have a competitive streak - oddly enough about things that really don't matter. Things like Singstar (I just have to win). Things also once got pretty ugly between my husband and me over a game of scrabble... He was winning, I kept getting rubbish letters and... well suffice to say it's not a game we play any more!

The competitive parents at the school gates are something that every parent is all too familiar with. You know - the one whose little darling could walk at four weeks and had composed a symphony at 13 months whilst simultaneously studying for their law degree.

It's horrible.

What's worse is that competitive parents can breed competition - so if you're not careful you can find yourself sucked into the same sort of petty one-upmanship.

The competition doesn't always begin and end with boastful claims about a child's achievements either. Some people seem to view anything and everything as a competition. Recently a friend and Perform parent was telling me about a fancy dress party that her child had attended. Ahead of the party she was wondering what to do in terms of a costume, so she asked one of the other parents what they had planned.

Their response? A very stiff 'wait and see', the inference being - 'I'm not sharing my ideas with you'.

My friend was surprised at her response - it was a children's fancy dress party - not London Fashion Week!

The theme was Alice in Wonderland, so having decided on the Queen of Hearts,my friend had found some red fabric with little white hearts and ran up a very simple little dress for her. They got the face paints out and, with a heart on each cheek and a plate of jam tarts, off her child went.

She was shocked when she got to the party to see the very elaborate lengths that some parents had gone too. Some had obviously hired costumes and others had clearly spent hours and hours and hours creating them. Fortunately the children were all far more interested in the games and the birthday tea than each other's costumes - and thank goodness for that; I'd hate to think of a child feeling bad because their costume wasn't 'good enough'.

So why do some parents become so competitive? And why do we allow ourselves to get dragged into the fray?

It's perfectly natural to be proud of your child's achievements, but I feel strongly that your pride shouldn't manifest itself in such a way as to make someone else feel bad. I'm tempted to say that perhaps some of these overly competitive parents are insecure, and are perhaps exaggerating their children's aptitude in order to make themselves feel better.

Of course, I'm not sure whether or not this is really true, but thinking like this does allow me to feel sorry for them (Ouch! That's not a nice thing to admit is it?!). It also makes their crazy antics easier to ignore.

How about you? Do you ignore the competitive types? Or try and beat them at their own game? Do let me know via the comments :)

Image credit Victor Bezrukov

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    From Lucy Quick
    Somtimes your child going to school is almost like you going back to school! Thanks for reading Mama Bear.
    From Mama Bear
    It's awful. I naively went around thinking everyone was being friendly at school enquiring about my children when it turns out that they were fishing for details to compete with!
    I think it is best to try and ignore it too. But it is becoming increasingly difficult recently as a few parents have become quite vindictive and being quite spiteful. It is down to the insecurities of the parents and their need to micro manage and control every aspect.
    As a teacher and a parent, I can say that most teachers see through the pushiness and are aware of it.
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Mummy Zen, I'm with you! I think it is best to ignore them... even if it's not always the easiest thing to do :)
    From Mummy Zen
    I nearly wrote a post about this myself recently! I'm shocked sometimes at how competetitive parents can be (mostly mothers in my experience). I definitely try to ignore them and think they're not really worth knowing if they feel the need to use their children as a way to show off or whatever the reason behind it is.
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