Baby’s Firsts: It’s not a Competition
We all want to know how our baby is progressing and fortunately, most of us have the benefit and the burden of tons of information available in print, online, or from family and friends. Even if you are fairly confident about your baby’s progress, and the pediatrician says “your baby is fine,” doubt and uncertainty can be introduced by those closest to you who over-share or boast incessantly about “all things related to their baby.”
Without fail, something new and exciting does happen almost every week when you have an infant. It might be that your baby finally starts sleeping through the night. Or that your baby really is laughing out loud and enjoying playtime. Maybe the poop is going from runny and yellow to well-formed and army green. Whether it’s social, emotional, cognitive or physical, these are moments you might share with friends. But somehow, these kinds of moments have also become fuel for the bragging wars, well documented on Disney’s Babble and the snarky STFU, Parents.
Why is it that the minute parents get together and discuss their kids, the conversation can strangely shift from sharing to competing? Recently, Bruce Feiler, who wrote the book, The Secrets of Happy Families called for an end to the bragging wars in the New York Times. But with social media, in particular, the situation is out of control. Bragging is not only ubiquitous; it’s on continuous auto-play. Even within your closest circle there may be someone that can deflate the smallest contribution you make to a sharing conversation. When you can predict what’s coming out of the mouth of a friend, it’s time to take action. We can all recognize these “bragging types.” A few classics are:
Bragging Betty/Bob: their competitive and narcissistic tendencies express themselves through the child as in “Look what I got (that you don’t have) today. Xander’s so good at baby yoga, his teacher recommended this special mat.”
Lying Lisa/Lance: their reports exaggerate or misrepresent the truth. And they are silent on anything troubling. “I just noticed, my baby’s poop doesn’t stink. Can you believe it?”
Stealth Bomber Stephanie/Stephan: feigns concern for you. “Hi, you’ve been on my mind. How are you and Emily doing?” You report cheerfully and she replies, “Oh Yeah! I know just how you feel! My baby did that two weeks ago.”
What do you do? Let the comments roll off your back and into the gutter. Tactfully redirect. Directly request a change of subject. Reduce the amount of contact with the offender. Find a new friend–an honest one. And remember this over-riding truth: Babies are on their own developmental schedule, and no amount of parental narcissism, lying, or putting down others will change that. In fact, time will always tell. Check back in on the braggarts in 20 years. As my mother used to tell me, “When it comes to life with children, the only thing that’s gonna run like clockwork is the clock.”