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Old 09-22-2012, 01:15 PM
 
4,044 posts, read 5,515,233 times
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I have read about this phenomenon before and I have recognized it among some of the people with children our age. Here is a link that describes it in more detail:

Mom-Petition: Hitting Moms Where It Hurts | LearnVest

The frequency and intensity of this phenomenon obviously varies by area and especially by socio-economic bracket, with the middle and upper-middle classes being most prone to it.

My question is: have you, personally, been faced with this situation before? Do you perceive it to exist out there or you can say, in all honesty, that you have no idea what such people are talking about?

If you have encountered the "mompetition" phenomenon (pops are not above it, mind you), how often would you say you encounter it and how do you generally deal with it? How does it manifest itself?

For example, we have some friends...a couple with two children the age of ours, with whom we have kept in touch over the past years mainly on the rationale that we both have kids the same age and they could play together, etc. We also have the same national origins (born and raised in the same country).

I cannot say that I would have had a great friendship compatibility with this mother, in and of itself, above and beyond the few aspects we have in common, mainly "kids the same age" and "same national origins".

When we meet, this lady invariably turns the discussion to children. How they do, what do they do, how much they do, what activities they are in, what she cooks for children, what she packs for lunch and how hers eat so much healthier, fresher foods than what the mainstream generally eats. The woman is obsessed with organics and healthy living, with sports for a healthy development of the body, with running marathons and making sure her kids do the same thing, and with everything else that you could possibly shine at (Her children are indeed quite athletic).
She also talks a lot about her children's school and how the teachers are like, and how lucky they seem to be every year to land the best possible teacher in school, which teacher happens to be so well-traveled internationally, so well-rounded and open minded, not at all like the other "provincials" in the same school, teaching at the same grade. She never said the world "provincial", but this is what she implies. She also documents every step of their lives and posts showers of pictures online (she mass-e-mails a link monthly) with the places they go, the parties they attend, the perfect little attires her daughter wears, the fantastic organic food that she packs for the child's lunch, all events at school. She is literally an obsessive picture taker and cannot live one moment picture-free.
Yes, you are probably tired only from reading this paragraph.

She is probably the worst of all the moms I know, but it is not like I have not sensed the "mompetition" phenomenon among other mothers. They all seem to have it to some degree, some more, some less - but I sense it there. It could be the social stratum I am living in (middle to upper-middle class individuals) ...but boy, does it get old at times.

I am the type of mom who cares a lot about the future of her children (sometimes worries too), but this is MAINLY because I know they will have to swim in very competitive waters and because we will hardly have any financial cushion to leave them. As such, I do my best to help them and give them the best possible start, within the limits of our resources (financial, energy, time). Given that I also work full-time in a pretty demanding, professional career - I do what I can, with what I have, and based on what I think is best. What I do is always out of CARE and WORRY for my children (aka "love"), and not out of any self-congratulatory needs.

However, I do not like to talk about what I do with my children, with friends and acquaintances, for a variety of reasons.

1. I consider my kids to be a very private part of my life. I do not see them as extensions of myself or "bragging rights" providers, even though they have given me opportunities to be very proud of them; also opportunities to be very worried about them. I don't feel comfortable with the concept of "pride", but I am definitely happy and supportive, and I praise them when I see them doing well.
But all this is between us and our kids, not between us and other people with kids.
This is exactly why I often come here and ask questions from a larger, anonymous population (usually in the Education section) - because I don't like to discuss my kids with friends and acquaintances.

2. I have noticed that discussions about kids with other moms seem to bring the worst out in them.

They either become guarded, threatened, and defensive, or they become inquisitive and nosey trying to squeeze information out of you so they can compare their kids with yours and possibly see if theirs can "outdo" yours; or they simply become obsessive in talking about kids and nothing else.
I do empathize with mothers who want to know how their child ranks (you would be a fool not to care in today's day and age, unless you have piles of wealth to leave them); but this is the kind of information they need to get from schools/teachers directly, and not something to pollute their so-called friendships with.
I continue to strongly believe in the saying that "competition brings the best in products and the worst in relationships".

3. I have interests outside of my kids. I love to read, I love to garden, I love to talk about the world, in general, including macro-level politics, and I have found I absolutely enjoy the company of intelligent singles who simply do not have kids to talk about and "compare and contrast" with mine. It's as simple as that.

What has been your experience? I would love to read more of anything you have to share on the topic.

Thank you again.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:36 PM
 
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Well, everyone has their thing! Competition is so universal that I've not noticed a distinction between being a mom or working in a certain field or owning a certain material thing etc. etc. (I laugh when my husband tells me some of the things men talk about and compete over)

It's a mad world no matter the competition but if I'm around someone who likes to brag on their child I say, good for them! We should be proud of our children. If it's a situation where someone has their nose in the air, well, I know life's circumstances will eventually change that (whether the person admits it or not). I wouldn't neccesarily bother with that unless it was directed toward or against me personally!

ETA: by "around" someone I mean briefly in their company. I don't keep company with people like this.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Tell-the-Truth;26204761We should be proud of our children.
I would just like to add that letting your children know that you appreciate them and you love how well they do ("being proud of them") is very different from wallowing in self-congratulatory talk when around other parents and when the child is not even there to hear you (to say that this might benefit the child perhaps).

If your child is not there, why exactly do you think you need to be "proud of your children" when talking to other mothers? If you are busy being "proud of yours", and they are busy "being proud of theirs", do you really see this as a catalyst for friendship?

In my experience, such mothers only end up getting on each other's nerves, not becoming friends.
In such situations, chances for genuine, authentic friendship, the kind in which you can leave your guards down and show yourself in all your glorious vulnerability...are nill.

But this is just my experience. Would love to hear from as many moms as possible.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:48 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
10,281 posts, read 16,539,347 times
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I think of them as the Alpha moms.

I'm definitely not an Alpha mom. I want my kids to have time to be kids and have fun. I don't care if they're the best at everything or get perfect grades.

I do agree that people compete about everything, but the Alpha moms seem to be the worst about it. Now that we're doing online school, half the moms I encounter seem to be Alpha moms who are homeschooling so they can micromanage every second of their child's day, and blog and brag about it.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:01 PM
 
455 posts, read 444,950 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
I would just like to add that letting your children know that you appreciate them and you love how well they do ("being proud of them") is very different from wallowing in self-congratulatory talk when around other parents and when the child is not even there to hear you (to say that this might benefit the child perhaps).

If your child is not there, why exactly do you think you need to be "proud of your children" when talking to other mothers? If you are busy being "proud of yours", and they are busy "being proud of theirs", do you really see this as a catalyst for friendship?

In my experience, such mothers only end up getting on each other's nerves, not becoming friends.
In such situations, chances for genuine, authentic friendship, the kind in which you can leave your guards down and show yourself in all your glorious vulnerability...are nill.

But this is just my experience. Would love to hear from as many moms as possible.
Well, I'm glad I'm allowed to share my own experience since it was asked of the community at large (*looking around to make sure this isn't the debate forum*)

I will add though, that I see nothing wrong with telling a friend or an aquaintance that my child is on the honor roll or has been accepted into a certain program etc. etc. I share that because it's in my mind and heart so of course it would be in my mouth!

Also, it doesn't matter to me what the conversation, if a person is "getting on my nerves" or discussing on a continual basis something I disagree with or would rather not hear, I'm not around them, problem solved and no love is lost
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:02 PM
 
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You can only be involved in a "mompetition" if you rise to the bait. I found a quick "congratulations, you/he/she must be proud, and a change of subject worked. But, most of my friends have similarly accomplished children. I didn't have to say what classes, grades or awards my kids won, as their friends were likely to be in the same classes, had comparable grades, and attended the same award ceremonies. You will likely find yourself surrounded by the parents of children that your own children have the most in common with, as they get older. Those are the parents who will remain friends long term.

I found parental competition much more prevalent in sports, and it was rampant among the fathers more so than the mothers. In my experience, the mothers are supportive of each other, and want the best for the children of their friends.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:03 PM
 
4,044 posts, read 5,515,233 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehog_Mom View Post
I think of them as the Alpha moms.

I'm definitely not an Alpha mom. I want my kids to have time to be kids and have fun. I don't care if they're the best at everything or get perfect grades.

I do agree that people compete about everything, but the Alpha moms seem to be the worst about it. Now that we're doing online school, half the moms I encounter seem to be Alpha moms who are homeschooling so they can micromanage every second of their child's day, and blog and brag about it.
Yeah, I find it interesting. Just dismissing this phenomenon with "well, people are naturally competitive" is simply not satisfactory enough. Up to a point, it's normal. We would all prefer that our kids not be at the bottom. This is clear. It's always been like that. But from here to this alpha-mom/mompetition thing is a long way.

I find this to be a new and quite intense phenomenon. I believe it has to do with modern day narcissism (this is a big one) COMBINED with a loss of truly productive role for the domestic woman.
Let's face it: the modern SAH or even PT-working mom no longer breaks her back cooking, cleaning, sewing, keeping the house, worrying about husband's welfare (50's style), what have you. Her new role has been transferred into the area of micro-managing the children.
Their children and their accomplishments are their new careers and the product they supposedly offer.

Children's activities, their academics, their "organic" living...all this is supposed to create the super-human of tomorrow able to face anything in this competitive world.

Maybe. I'm just theorizing. But at the personal level, I can't - for the life of me - develop a friendship with this alpha-mom prototype.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:05 PM
 
4,044 posts, read 5,515,233 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattie View Post
I found parental competition much more prevalent in sports, and it was rampant among the fathers more so than the mothers. In my experience, the mothers are supportive of each other, and want the best for the children of their friends.
Waow, interesting. Not my experience. I found dads a whole lot more "laissez-faire" and a lot less intense about kids.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:06 PM
 
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I have encountered this type of mom on occasion. I tend to try to avoid them.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:06 PM
 
10,903 posts, read 8,284,818 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
Yeah, I find it interesting. Just dismissing this phenomenon with "well, people are naturally competitive" is simply not satisfactory enough. Up to a point, it's normal. We would all prefer that our kids not be at the bottom. This is clear. It's always been like that. But from here to this alpha-mom/mompetition thing is a long way.

I find this to be a new and quite intense phenomenon. I believe it has to do with modern day narcissism (this is a bog one) COMBINED with a loss of truly productive role for thhe domestic woman.
Let's face it: the modern SAH or even PT-working mom no longer breaks her back cooking, cleaning, sewing, keeping the house, worryuing about husband's welfare (50's style), what have you.
Her new role has been transferred into the area of micro-managing the children.
Their children and their accomplishments are their new careers and the products they supposedly offer.

Children's activities, their academics, their "organic" living...all this is supposed to create the super-human of tomorrow able to face anything in this competitive world.
AFAIC this is likely to have the polar opposite affect. It screams helicopter to me and is more likely to produce a useless wimp.
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