CompetiMoms and What Kids Should Know

Ok this blog is mostly Cady and Hadley and what they are doing but sometimes I feel the need to get things off my chest here. Something has been weighing heavy on me for quite a while now.

Before having children, I envisioned this great support system of fellow moms that would encourage, commiserate and comfort each other. I imagined fellow moms to be my allies. And luckily I have found several women who fall into this category. I can always trust that they will talk me down on my worst parenting days and be happy for the little things that only other moms can understand.They will make me feel like my child is completely normal and my parenting skills are up to par, even when I question both those things. I am pretty sure I couldn’t be the parent I am without them in certain ways.

Unfortunately, I have encountered a completely other type of mom: The “CompetiMom.” These moms are pretty much the exact opposite. For whatever reason, they want their kid to be better. If your kid doesn’t hit a milestone or meet a standard when theirs did, then obviously something is wrong with you as a parent or with your child. If your child hits a milestone before theirs they have to tout that they are superior because “who cares about that milestone” or they aren’t “rushing their child to grow up.”  They feed their child better food. They buy their kid more expensive clothes. They always have some sort of benchmark that they meet every time and most others fall short of. There is one way for a child to do things and only at one certain pace. Their child is some piece in a race and they will always get to the end first.

And it isn’t as if I just recently discovered CompetiMoms. I noticed the trend basically from the very beginning of my tenure as a mother. I have recently, however, had a nasty run in with some and my friends have encountered the same. It seems like a growing phenomenon. I’ve had someone I considered a friend flat out tell me one of my kids was doing something developmentally wrong, completely unsolicited. As much as I know that she is not anywhere close to being behind developmentally and that her “issues” are a totally normal part of being a child, it still isn’t something a mom wants to hear. I am completely realistic and realize that my kids are not perfect, and I would never want them to be. But I don’t need some other person telling me that. I promise, I see it enough everyday.

I do realize that I post about milestones in the monthly posts. But I have said over and over again, that I don’t write this blog for anyone other than myself. I want to remember what the girls were doing right at this point in time. It is a way to keep our family in the loop as well. Several have told me that they feel more a part of the girls lives because they are able to read this blog. So if any post of mine ever made another mom feel less about themselves as mother or about their children, that has never been my intention. I really have only wanted to keep a log of what my children are like and share our lives with our friends and family.

Ok wow this has turned out longer than I intended, but if you are still reading (yay for you!) I wanted to share an article a friend turned me on to yesterday. A Magical Childhood is a really great resource for parents. Alicia wrote an article that I’d like to post an excerpt of (with her permission). I highly suggest reading the whole thing here.

What should a 4 year old know?
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

  • She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  • He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  • She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  • He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  • She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

  • That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
  • That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
  • That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
  • That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
  • That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.

    They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.”

I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy, again not my intention. I’ve just really needed the opportunity to get this off my chest and share some really wise words that I truly believe in from someone who says it way better than I ever could. Thanks Alicia, for allowing me to share your words, but importantly for writing them. And seriously, if you have made it this far you should let me know and I will send you a thank you note or something. You’re obviously a trooper.

I’m stepping off the soapbox now and will return soon with cute pics or videos of the girls.



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7 responses to “CompetiMoms and What Kids Should Know

  1. AMEN sister!!! You know I’m not a big fan or reading LONG blog posts! But, I had to keep reading!! The teacher in me agrees with everything you said!!! Cady is perfect & exactly how God intended for her to be!!! Plus, she’s just so stinkin cute!!

  2. Julie/HH

    What a beautiful post; every word of it. 🙂

  3. Kiki

    Very well said.

  4. Melissa Blair

    I know I am biased but I think Cady and Hadley are just the most perfect little girls. Love you guys and miss you tons!!

  5. tiffany

    LOVE this….SO glad you shared!!!! All so true 🙂

  6. Finally got caught up on blog reading & I read every word! It’s crazy entering the world of motherhood & everybody gives you advice on having kids, but nobody warns you about the “other type of mothers” in the world. I’m still completely shocked at how other moms can be towards each other, instead of supporting them & encouraging them, they want to bring them down so they can try to feel better about themselves, but it only brings them lower. I’ve definitely seen it too many times myself.

    The article really made me wanna cry tho about how we should spend just MORE TIME with our kids, not more money or more pushing into accomplish something just so the parent can say they accomplished this or that. Because kids grow up way too fast and I’m just overly hormonal & emotional right now lol so that just really touched me.

    Anyway, sorry about the super long comment. Just wanted to catch up on reading what we talked about today & it was good to see you again!

  7. Pingback: Top 10 posts in 2011 | Cady Cupcake

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