While exercising at the gym last week, I caught a segment on the Today Show about Mompetition. What’s a Mompetition, you say? Well, I am sure you have seen this phenomenon before— you just didn’t have a name to attach to it. Have you ever seen a mom bragging about her child’s athletic prowess and another mother joining in to compete? Or have you ever heard two moms gloating over which gifted class their very special child has been placed in? If you are lucky enough to have survived the college application process with a child, you have certainly seen this marvel take place. In conversation, each mother tries to “one up” the last one with the exceptional Universities that her child is applying to, all the time oblivious to how other women are feeling. I take that back, she could be very aware of how other women are feeling— I have seen this Mompetition get downright ugly and spiral out of control.
Everyone that knows me understands how the hair on the back of my neck goes up when women try to compete, especially through their children. To put it mildly, I find it distasteful and frankly, I think we women have better things to talk about. Once, at dinner with a group of women friends, B. asked M. what her daughter had scored on her ACT exam. I looked across the table and into M’s eyes. I wondered if she was as shocked as I was by this request. I knew they were not best friends discussing their children. I knew what was about to unfold— a good old fashioned mompetition! I honestly hoped that M. would shut this down quickly. But I was naive to think that she could hold back. She proudly stated her daughter’s high score, to which B. countered with one point higher, of course. That is about where I zoned out on the whole conversation.
Why do women compete through their children? The Today Show cited two reasons and I agree with them: some women are feeling insecure in their life and others lack their own identity. They found this phenomenon occurred equally in working moms and stay-at-home moms alike. I believe the key to avoiding this trap is for Moms to consistently work on growing as individuals, setting goals and being challenged in life. In other words, women need to work on having a well-defined identity independent of being a mom. So, girlfriends, the next time you get ready to brag about your kid to someone other than your family, really give it some thought. As I have said before, go work on yourself.