Competitive parenting? No thanks

Three trophies on a winners' podium.

I was disappointed to read about a new Channel 4 show coming soon. Entitled Britain’s Best Parent? the five-episode series will enter the world of competitive parenting.

It will pit various approaches against one another in front of a live audience to establish whether a perfect parenting philosophy exists.

First of all, I think the idea of striving for perfection is both foolish and problematic. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.

Particularly when it comes to learning as we go while sleep deprived. I’ve made loads!

It’s part and parcel of being human. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but that’s more than okay.

Aiming to be perceived as one, though, is a bad idea. It only sets you up for disappointment. Bringing up children is hard enough as it is, so why add extra and unnecessary pressure?

Then there’s the competitive parenting side of things. I think it’s incredibly unhealthy to turn an important part of life into a contest.

I regularly doubt myself and know that I’m far from alone in that. According to a recent survey, 64% of respondents said they had suffered poor mental health since becoming parents.

Now, I know we probably all unconsciously compare ourselves to other parents, but actively encouraging people to do so is another matter entirely.

A culture of competition is the last thing many of us need. I’m perfectly capable of feeling crap about myself without thinking about how others must be doing a better job than me.

This, of course, links to the images people decide to share on social media. And it’s something we all do in various gradations.

For example, I share a fair amount of happy moments on Instagram but have yet to take and share a selfie while yelling at the kids.

Generally speaking, we share the best sides of ourselves and leave out the stuff we don’t want people to see. The danger in this is taking people’s images of family life at face value and assuming they have perfect lives.

Really, the only competitive parenting we should be engaging in is with ourselves. As I said earlier, we’re all learning as we go and will improve our approaches naturally.

I think we’re all aware of what we’re doing well and areas for improvement. For the record, I’m great at reading with the kids but remain unsuccessful in getting youngest to stay in her own bed for more than a few hours.

I know I’ll get there eventually though and am not going to worry myself by thinking about how well her other parents are faring.

Being good enough really is good enough. So there.

Competitive parenting? No thanks.


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