The rise of anti-competitive parenting

So like most first time mums I did the whole NCT schizzle.

It was ok, you know once you got used to the awkwardness associated with being forced together with a group of strangers with a single patch of common ground.

Like most groups of mums we did the whole discussing and comparing our babies development – sleeping, eating, moving, yada yada yada. It became apparent that the bonding process consisted largely of stealth boasting on behalf of your baby.

Prizes were awarded to babies in the following categories:-

  • Longest amount of uninterrupted sleep
  • Best at self settling
  • Length of time between feeds
  • Strongest neck
  • Quickest to roll
  • Most placid
  • Tallest
  • Most consistent routine

Anyway I was down with this, I knew the score. I didn’t actually give a rats arse but as part of the camaraderie I joined In regardless. It was mostly a load of bullshit – everyone knew everyone else was bullshitting too, but that was part of the fun.

Anyway fast forward 2.5 years i was pregnant again and decided, for some ridiculous reason, to do a refresher NCT course. Most of my buddies had returned to work or completed their families and i was scared i wouldn’t know how to fill my time bar for the passive aggressive company of NCT course mates.

But things had changed, times had moved on. From our first meet up post baby it became clear it was no longer about having the most well behaved baby but about having the most difficult baby.

We started with the most highly regarded of categories – sleep. Someone began with ‘Rosie’s still waking up every couple of hours to feed’ followed by another lady interjecting ‘Oh that would be amazing, Ben is pretty much hourly’.

There were tales of being up all night and babies waking for the day at 4am. Previously taboo methods of getting babies to sleep such as rocking or feeding were now considered perfectly acceptable.

And so it went on….sleep fighting, constant feeding, colic and general irritability were all things to be proud of.

I was completely thrown. I hadn’t prepared for this. I desperately wracked my brain for shit things to say about baby S.

I looked over at him happily playing and smiling away at his toys – dammit why did he have to be so lovely?!

Just as i was about to totally write him off, with spot on timing, he vomited up an entire feed; everyone looked over…. ‘Reflux‘ i said to a room of sympathetic eyes.

In my head we did a virtual high five – nice one baby!

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28 thoughts on “The rise of anti-competitive parenting

  1. cariemay

    Oh that made me giggle! I think I’ve been incredibly lucky with my NCT friends – three years later and we’re all still good friends and either we weren’t very competitive or I’m just completely oblivious. I bet you’d never thought you’d be glad of reflux!

  2. Debra

    You know what I had never thought about this. We go to a couple of groups at a Sure Start centre and your so right the conversation has changed. I wonder why this is, how strange. By the way, I might be being really thick and I’m sure there’s going to be a ‘oh of course’ moment but what does NCT stand for, I don’t think I have come across it before?

  3. Dawn Frazier

    I never did the NCT thing. In my experience I’ve only ever experienced the ‘how to be the best parent and have your baby doing things the quickest’. I think all parents could probably find something that they found hard about their baby being tiny. The trouble is, why do we compare so much?

    Great post. The virtual high five bit made me smile :-)

  4. 3yearsandhome

    I never got the chance to do anything like this because my German was far too rubbish to join any classes over here. Sounds highly amusing though, as long as you don’t take it too seriously.

  5. Abby

    Ha! I thought I was imagining the anticompetitive thing! I know a couple of mums who simultaneously manage to be the best mum to the best at everything babies and the worst babies. Things I’ve found fall into anti-competitive categories are feeding, crying and sleeping but anything physical, verbal or intelligence still falls into regular competitive tendencies.

    My little lad falls squarely into the middling at everything. Apart from the fact he’s by *far* the cutest baby. But you can’t say that. It’s ‘apparently’ not the done thing. ;)

    1. hurrahforgin

      You are very right I never head anything anti competitive to do with ability or intelligence!

      My two are pretty middling in most respects too. It’s a shame as being average never gets me any boasting leverage ;)

  6. mummydaddyme

    Oh I had all this except with Mads she was pretty much the most perfect baby so I actually used to LIE that she was sleeping worse than she was (she was sleeping through 13 hours!) so I didn’t upset or making anyone think I was boasting! Haha. But with LL, I have no new baby friends to share the pain of the fact she doesn’t sleep like her sister was. Oh well. ;)

  7. Jude

    Ha! Totally relate on this one; my night was worse than your night. my attempt to get out of the house without going out of my mind was worse than your attempt etc etc. It’s like a rite of passage to survive in one piece! Great post!

  8. franglaisemummy

    I think I was mega lucky with my NCT refresher group as it’s all been honest sharing, good and bad bits, but I have heard some horror stories. Good luck with it all!

  9. sandinmytoestk

    Haha, it’s funny how we want to be the parent having the hardest time in the room! I have never been part of such a group but have had a fair share of such conversations online. Here from #PoCoLo

  10. Victoria Welton (@VicWelton)

    I have to say that I really can’t be bothered with this competitive parenting malarkey! I remember being scared to say that Grace had her first tooth because she was the first one in our post natal class! Next time around I am so not going to get involved. Thank you so much for linking to PoCoLo x

  11. mummytries

    I really dislike competetiveness, especially when it comes to parenting. It’s unnecessary and makes people feel crap about themselves (why oh why?). Friends should be there to support eachother, not try to one up all the time. Good luck with the reflux, hope he outgrows it real soon #PoCoLo

  12. Actually Mummy

    Ha! That’s what the world needs :) I remember emailing my NCT group at 4am with the title “We have a tooth!” I was desperately proud to be the first to say it. Over the next 45 minutes I got 5 emails back entitled “Me too!” #floored

  13. Amy

    Haha! I didn’t do it first time round but my refresher NCT friends are definitely honest about our parenting struggles and failures than we would’ve been first time. I’m loving it. Much easier to get support from someone else who is also a total mess than from Mary Poppins :)

  14. singlemotherahoy

    Now that my S is 21 months, we have competitive anti-competitive parenting.
    “argh, she’s learned how to open the front door, it’s so annoying!”
    “he’s potty trained already, we have to keep going upstairs to the loo!”
    “she can count to four, we have to count everything we see. groan!”
    Moaning about our children’s achievements when what we’re really doing is boasting. I try to join in but I think I’m doing it wrong: “omg she learned how to open the bathroom door! Awesome” or “she learned how to undo her nappy and peed on the floor again…”

  15. Cathy

    I think I must have the skin of a wild rhino because I have honestly never noticed any competitive parenting! Either that or I don’t have many friends ;)

    I know people do like to boast about their kids but I suppose the way I see it, we’re all in it together and we all take the rough with the smooth. I can forgive a bit of boasting because we all know when things aren’t so great it’s effing hard so why not celebrate achievements?

    Either that or the fact that my children are both so perfect, beautiful, gifted, talented and advanced brilliant eaters and sleepers that can communicate in three languages kind of puts people off competing with me. I just don’t know.


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