Parenting is not so much doing the right things with your child, but it’s about being the right person with the child. ~ Stanley Mukolwe
Mothers. They obsess. Their brag about their children. Great grades in school, how the kids thrive in sport. Fast learners in spelling or reading, singing has become so natural it must be a God-given talent. They learnt how to play an instrument at an early age, the child started baking at the age of 5 and is now the pastry chef during family functions.
Oh, he started painting when he was 2 ½ years old. She uses the potty so well, does yours do too? Does your child sleep throughout the night? Mine does at least 10 hours of straight sleep!
Of course the last one would stress me because my little one had his own ideas about sleep.
So the question is, is it okay to brag about your children? Annette Patricia Lareau, a sociologist working at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke to WebMD concerning this. She stated that this child-centered parenting is how middle-class parents tend to see parenting as a project. They see it as something to be managed, organized and programmed.
However, studies have proven that the danger of bragging about your children is that it shifts the focus from the children as individuals to achievements and/or performances. This has the potential of leaving the child feeling as if he only exists for the mother’s glory. This child wants, nay, longs for the parent to love them as individuals and not just for what they achieve.
So why do mothers still do it?
Sense of pride and joy. A majority of mothers, I believe, fall in this category. There are no ulterior motives and the happiness with their children’s progress is usually genuine. Naturally, the resultant action is to talk about it, even though some can stretch this a bit too far.
Impression. Yes. There are those who try to impress the world, to anyone who cares to know about what’s going on in their lives. Teachers, in particular, are likely candidates for such impressing. Perhaps mothers get a sense of satisfaction when their children are easily recognized by teachers. You know it, no?
Achievements. The children could be one of the things working well for such a mom. She lives her life through her children. They occupy her mind, they give her a sense of purpose. They become the reason she keeps going. Why? Because there could be areas in her life that are not working, for instance marriage, or even work.
Competition. Oh, this is so true. Some mothers will compete with others regarding choice of schools, where to shop or where to spend time over the weekends or holidays. They are quite competitive to the point where, without realizing it, they push their children so hard because they must win. This, they feel, is the best way to stay ahead of the pack and bring with it a sense of achievement.
Now, there’s a group of people that I feel for. That audience that has to, more often than not, listen to these stories. Yet, in the midst of them, are women who are single, without children or struggling to get babies of their own. They have to make do with sitting and listening to some mothers who go on and on about their children whilst being totally insensitive to their audience.
It’s not funny. One of my single friends avoids married women with children because their world consists of husbands and children. They do not have time, or possibly have it in small portions, to notice others around.
And this doesn’t just exist with mothers in the middle-class. No. Look at comparisons between the rural and urban folks. Picture yourself taking your 10-year old child upcountry to visit the relatives. Picture your auntie expressing shock because your child doesn’t know how to fend for herself, can’t fetch water from the river, start a fire, cook, milk the cow or even dig!
Your auntie will go on to compare your child with her children who learnt how to undertake these activities at very young ages. She will go to the extent of mocking your children by demonstrating that urban life isn’t all that. It is something you’d have to deal with.
So how would you do it? How would you manage this braggadocio?
MAKE A CHOICE to CELEBRATE with your friends who brag about their children, but only if you can handle it. Do not fuel the conversation to AVOID COMPARING her child with another. I admit, I have been guilty. My teenage daughter has rightfully accused me of comparing her with other children. And I can trace such conversations back, conversations that I’ve had with someone who bragged about what their children can do.
FOCUS on your child and not their achievements. I am a strong advocate of spending time with your children. Love them for who they are. And if you are prone to bragging, kindly CONSIDER your environment before you speak. There are people around you who could be dying to give you a double dose of SENSITIVITY.
Finally, according to Eve Pearlman of WebMD, RESTRICT your bragging to the child’s other parent, grand parents, uncles and aunts. These people already know and appreciate that your child is the smartest, bravest and best child on earth. Perhaps you could also include your very close friends.
What’s your take on this?