Wednesday’s Parent–Parent Rivalries


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parent rivalriesIt’s college night at your high school and here she comes—THAT mom. We’ve all encountered her. As a matter of fact, a recent episode of a TV sitcom, “The Goldbergs”, described her perfectly. Her son is going to Harvard or Yale and she’s going to tell the whole school about it. Does she listen to you? Nope. She goes on and on about the colleges he applied to, the scholarships he’s going to win, and the awards he will receive at graduation.

Here’s the problem—you never asked. And thus begins the parent rivalries over college. It’s not pretty, but every parent will come across one or more of these parents while their teen is in high school. The danger is getting sucked in to the competition, which can only hurt your teen. But just how do you avoid it? It’s a parent’s natural instinct to be proud of their kids and you will be tempted to counter their bragging with bragging of your own.

Here are some tips on how to react when the situation arises (and avoid embarrassing your teen):

Don’t play their game

The easiest thing to do is offer a comeback but you should resist; especially if your teen is with you. The last thing they need is to believe that you need to one-up the other parent. Teens are already insecure and when their parents respond it just gives credibility to the other parent’s claims—that their son or daughter is better.

Take the high road

When you’re confronted by this type of parent, take the high road. Smile and congratulate them and walk away. If it’s a friend listen intently but don’t respond except to say that you’re happy for them. You can win with these parents and there’s no point in getting into a war over “my kid is better than your kid.” Don’t feel like a failure as a parent if you feel your child’s accomplishments don’t measure up.

Remember every child is unique

Don’t compare your child to others. Every child is unique, and every child has to follow their own path. Your child may be headed to community college, trade school or opting to take a gap year. The worst thing you can do for you and for them is start believing that anyone else’s kid is better than they are. When you are confronted with their bragging, don’t forget your child is moving toward their future—in the way that is best for them.

College is college and the name doesn’t mean much

Harvard, Yale, Brown, MIT or any other big name college isn’t the be all and end all of success. Your child has worked hard for four years and with college on the horizon, they have accomplished much. In the grand scheme of things, the name doesn’t mean much; it’s the education they will receive at college and the life experiences they have.

The college prep process brings stress and frustration, but don’t let the parent rivalries add to the stress. Smile and focus on your own child, because in the end, that’s really all that matters.

Check out Wendy’s blog on Taming the Green-Eyed Parent Monster

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