Directly across the aisle on the train this morning sat two men chatting about work and the weather at a much louder volume than can possibly be appreciated at 7 a.m. Two more men joined the pair, and the group of four, all of whom apparently knew one another, began to discuss their children – first nonchalantly, then with increasing rivalry. One dad mentioned his son's skill in creating toy robots, and another trumped the story with his middle school daughter's exemplary performance on a high school level science exam. One dad's daughter made the varsity soccer team, and another's son was already being scouted by the state's top colleges.
In a matter of minutes, these grown men had regressed to boys, attempting to dominate each other vicariously through their children. Was it authentic love and pride that moved them to share their kids' accomplishments, or was it a more crude desire to one-up another being?
It's understandable. Sometimes we are so overcome with adoration for our children that we can't help but tell everyone about that super sweet thing that our little one said before bed last night. And then some other mom has to chime in with her own story, which just so happens to be a level cuter than ours? Yeah right. Commence brag battle.
But that's not what parenting is about. Children aren't game pieces to be used for jumping other parents and sending them home. Raising kids is not a competition. Parents have every right to be overwhelmingly pleased with their children, even to be pleased with their own parenting, but the persistent bragging is unwarranted.
All parents think that their kids are the greatest, and nothing will convince them otherwise. So instead of feeling angered or threatened by another parent's endless bragging, have enough confidence in your children and in your own parenting to pass on a petty boast-off. You don't have to share everything.
Switch perspectives. Regardless of age, we all want to know that we're making our parents proud. We want to see it when our dad's eyes soften and a smile spreads across his face as he brings us in for a hug, and we want to hear it when our mom gets all choked up trying to verbalize her love for us. Winning that parenting contest on the train? Meaningless.
Image: Parents watching son play via Shutterstock.