How to avoid being competitive? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-11-2003, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's my situation:

My sister and I had our babies just 10 days apart. Both girls. I love my sister very much, and it was fun to share the journey of pregnancy with her.

When I became a mother just six short months ago, I welcomed her advice (she also had a 14-month-old). But soon our paths diverged - she bottle-feeds, I breastfeed; she's into strict schedules, etc., etc. All of this makes no difference to me, she is still a wonderful mother to her children. But. The constant comparing - about weight, length, number of teeth, milestones reached, and so on, is getting on my nerves. I want to get away from it because I feel like it's about more than just friendly comparing - I feel like there's a smugness to her asking - kind of a bragging, which I know we all do from time to time, but I feel it's more like a way for her to constantly confirm that her parenting is superior to mine.

For example: she's into Babywise and her baby slept through the night at 6 weeks. I am not into Babywise and my dd still doesn't sleep through the night. She *always* asks if dd is sleeping through the night yet, and I when I say no, I can feel the gloat.

Same thing with weight gain (my dd was 2 pounds more than her dd at birth but is now 3 pounds less) and pretty much all other apsects of growth and development. I just can't shake the feeling that she thinks I'm making bad parenting choices. I guess I shouldn't care, but she is my sister and truth be told, I do care what she thinks. It does bother me - I do want her to believe that I am a good mom too, even if we do things differently.

I would like know how to steer the conversation away from always revolving around the stats of our dds - how do I redirect focus to something more meaningful?

This is just a long road that we're going to be on together, and I'd really like to enjoy our girls together, not feel competitive about trivial stuff or parenting styles. I don't want our differences to cause any rifts, even subtle ones, between us.

Any advice? Thanks!
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#2 of 5 Old 02-12-2003, 12:22 AM
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I don't have any profound suggestions just that maybe it is best to be open and tell her how you have been feeling. Maybe a dinner out without the girls? You two seem to have such a loving relationship (I was struck by how non-judgemental you are and how you seem to really respect her despite your parenting differences). I know that if I tend to leave things unsaid for too long they really start to fester and after that every little comment wieghs heavier than it probably should, KWIM? Doesn't it seem like - sometimes- that people gloat when they are hiding some insecurities of their own? I think it is natural to have those insecurities as a parent, but better if we can all share them with emapthy - only that isn't always easy, I guess. Best of luck!
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#3 of 5 Old 02-12-2003, 02:14 AM
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I'm really glad you posted this thread. I have written and rewritten my answer b/c the more I think about it the more complex I discover it is. I mean, it's natural when mothers get together that you are going to say what your little one is up to. As mothers we understand how totally exciting it is when your little one grasps an object, or utters their first consonant sound. THAT is what we are sharing with each other, yet somehow it comes out as competitive, because I suppose the natural response is to say whether or not YOUR little baby is doing the same thing or did that at the same age.

And I think each one of us has some selfconciousness about our parenting choices. Gawd, it's like religion or something! You do what you feel is best for your baby, which seems by inference to suggest that anyone who does differently is doing "less". I'm sure that for every cosleeping mama who is desperate to defend their choice, there is a formula feeding mom who also feels that need. We are all trying to validate our choices to others, not because we doubt them ourselves, but perhaps to avoid this notion of "if I do X because it is what I think is best, then obviously I think what you do, Y, is not the best".

I know when DD got sick last week with her first cold that I actually felt like I could no longer "brag" that my 100% breastfed baby had "never had a sick day in her life". It was like I'd let down the cause of BFing. Yet I'm betting that a FF mom who's baby gets sick is probably feeling somewhere in the back of her mind like SHE's just "proven" that formula is inferior. KWIM?

I'm betting, Friendlymama, that your sister feels exactly the same way you do. It would be only human to do so. Deep down we all know that your DD not sleeping thru has not as much to do with cosleeping as it does with her own innate rhythm, b/c my baby sleeps awesome and we've coslept from day one. I also know moms who have tried to sleep train and failed. She's probably dreading every sniffle from her formula fed baby thinking you're going "aha" inside. I bet if you asked her, and she was really honest with you, you'd find out you both feel that sense of competitiveness and yet neither one of you intends it...ya know?

Okay, I"ve rambled enough. I hope some of this makes sense!!

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#4 of 5 Old 02-12-2003, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, Piglet, I think you're right. Part of the problem is my own insecurity over being a new mom, combined with being the "little" sister. I am six years younger than her, and I guess I've always felt like she's known best.

I'll tell her how I feel. Like I said, I just want to enjoy our girls together, not feel like we're competing for the mother-of-the-year award.

Thanks again.
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#5 of 5 Old 02-12-2003, 03:15 PM
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I didn't read the other posts b/c I don't have much time. I had a friend who was similar to your sis and I was also bothered by the comparisons. I would try and try to just "talk" about stuff, the joy of parenting, etc. but she would always veer the conversation to the comparison game. When she would ask about baby sleeping through the night I would respond (very kindly) "No, thank goodness. I've been reading a lot about how babies are designed to feed every few hours, even at night." When she would ask about how "the co-sleeping thing" is going I would tell her how much we enjoyed waking up to see our son's smiling face and I'd tell her about all the cute things he'd do that we would have missed if he was sleeping in another room. But, that being said, the bottom line is that you want to enjoy spending time w/your sis and niece. This is what I did with my friend that started a discussion on the subject. One day I talked about something cute that my son did. Then I said, "I hope that doesn't come across as bragging, I hate when parents have to constantly compare. I like spending time w/you because I feel like we can just let our children be children w/out all the parenting politics" Okay, so I lied. But I did value her friendship, and that conversation did make things better. We just let each other be. Now we can laugh about the things our children do, without the competition.

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