What is Competitive Parenting

Competitive parenting is similar to keeping up with the Jones’s. Perhaps it can even be seen as keeping ahead of them. The children of the family play a part in building the parents’ self-esteem and social standing. Perhaps the parents themselves have not been as successful as they would have hoped. The children can help make up for that. 

“My son is a genius. At the age of two he already knows Pythagoras’s theorems.” Allan steps into the fold and recites the laws that make up the theorems. All the steps are correct. In any case, the listener wouldn’t be able to tel the difference. 

“Allan, what is Einstein’s theory of relativity?” 

“C equals MC spared,” responds Allan. It sounds right and really does impress. 

Competitive parenting does not only involve the intellectual talents. It extends to beauty pageants. At six months, Andy should have won his first beauty contest. The shopping mall’s baby competition was obviously corrupt. The judges just couldn’t give the prize to a boy, no matter how beautiful. 

Every parent fills with pride when their child achieves something. They become envious when their children don’t meet the standards set by others. 

Fathers often want their sons to be great sportsmen, even at the age of five. They stand next to the field as their son plays soccer, shouting instructions and words of encouragement. When the referee makes an obviously flawed decision, all hell breaks loose. 

Competitive parenting can become quite destructive. Parents enroll their children in every extra mural under the sun from baby-hood. From tennis to basketball to swimming. Next it is off to kung-foo and piano lessons. If one of Candy’s friends is doing something extra, then Candy must do it too.

The competition doesn’t end there. School marks are very important. Competitive parents get very upset when their child does not score all A’s at school. They just have to be top of the class! The competition carries on through childhood, into the teenage years and beyond into adult-hood. Every now and again the child rebels. He refuses to perform the feats demanded, and instead of becoming a surgeon chooses the unpressurized life of a petrol pump attendant. 

Not all parents are competitive. Some accept their children and encourage them in all that they do. These parents recognize that every child is different, and that no-one can excel at everything. They help to nurture the child’s strengths, and enjoy the accomplishments of their friends and family. The children of these parents are lucky. The parents are lucky too.

Competitive parenting may lead their children to live the lives of stressed-out over-achievers. They become perfectionists that are never able to achieve perfection. They become competitive parents. Some children respond differently. They seek out escape routes from the competition. They rebel against always having to be the best. They may find a natural balance in life or they may become under-achievers. 

Competition is healthy to a degree. Every parent should be involved in the lives of their children. They should enjoy and take pride their accomplishments and provide support when they fail and err along the way. Competitive parenting places great stress on both the children and the parents. Perhaps it is driven by the parent trying to build their own self esteem through their children. Competitive parenting is not the right way to bring up children.