What are we teaching our kids?

I was in my car today, pulled up at a red light when a catchy song came on the radio.

You’re on the phone with your girlfriend
She’s upset.
She’s going off about something that you said
‘Cuz she dosent get your humor like I do

If you could see that I’m the one who understands you
Been here all along so why can’t you see, you
You belong with me

And it was there at the traffic lights that I had a thought: Is this why Mums are competitive, trying to outdo each other with stories of babies who sleep through the night at 5 weeks, children who would never raise their voice at the supermarket and tales of children who turn their nose up at all but organic, fair trade, locally produced food?

Is it ingrained? We seem to be surrounded by messages that tell us that it is every woman for herself.

On Taylor Swift’s fan website, she states that she writes songs that her fans can relate to, rather than songs about life on the road, touring America. From everything I have seen, she is a beautiful, intelligent girl who seems to have her ‘head on straight’. I don’t blame her for writing songs that girls can relate to, but it’s just such a shame that this is something that teenage girls can relate to!

Last night I spent time reading a parenting forum. I haven’t visited the site before, but I was intrigued. As I sat and read some of the most recent topics, I was amazed at the way these Mums tore shreds off each other. Some of the phrases were things like “You are obviously cruel and don’t care about your kids” and “You women are a pack of dogs”. I wasn’t there for long. As far as I’m concerned, parenting forums are a place to go for support, or for different perspectives on parenting and life…not for abuse like that!

Then today was the story in the newspaper of a women who has just given birth to twins, her 11th and 12th children. The article itself was straightforward, but the public comments afterwards were horrific! Does it really make anyone feel better to crucify others for the choices they make? Even though it really will have little or no impact on the way that you live?

Why is it that people would rather compete with each other rather than support each other? How can we teach our kids compassion, empathy and consideration if we aren’t willing to ‘walk the talk?’

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by plahski on October 16, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    We were JUST talking about this over dinner!

    We were saying why is it that everyone is always focussed on negativity… We really hurt each other with it. It’s like the woman who works with me – she is always busy busy busy. whereas I am quite laid back but we seem to get the same work done (I’m part time and she is full time so there is a difference but not in essentials) but she is so critical of me – it can get really tense. There is absolutely no reason for her to be critical of me because I do everything I have to do and I do it pretty efficiently – but I don’t ACT busy so she thinks I must not be doing as much.

    We are just different people and we do things in a different way. But we get the same job done and we should rejoice in that – and praise each other for it!

    We were making play doh (PLAY DOH for crying out loud) and apparently I wasn’t doing it how she would do it and she told me so in front of all these people and it was so absurd!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Capricious on October 17, 2009 at 7:13 am

    Oh dear! Well, play doh is SERIOUS stuff!

    I wonder what it is that makes it ok to be this way. Surely it doesn’t really make people feel better in the long term to be so critical of each other?

    I too am someone who is relaxedly efficient and I know when I was working it often meant a lot of extra work heaped on me because I could handle it.

    I think that people tend to lash out like this when they don’t understand where someone else is coming from, so perhaps your workmate is confused or a little threatened by how ‘easily’ it must all seem to come to you?

    Reply

  3. I think a lot of it is because of the internet and things like messaging – you are nicely anonymous and can say what you want without consequences you would have to face in person. Plus it’s so quick and easy to write off a response without really thinking it through.
    I blog and use Twitter, and I find there is a real pressure to get an answer off quickly to be part of the conversation, it moves on if you think too long. Plus with Twitter/SMS’s character limit you only get a superficial message. So there isn’t time or space to reflect, it’s all first impressions.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Nat on October 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Everyone of us is human. We are all toddlers inside…completely intrinsic…no matter how nice, how generous, how loveable we are on the outside we want to be the best, look as though we have everything under control and not seem silly, wrong or un-knowledgeable.
    We need to learn that life is actually not all about me! I will never be in control! I don’t decide when I’m born (or even when our children are born)! I don’t get to be in control of when I die (of natural causes that is)! This also means that I cannot control when my child will toilet train (we have 3 months till pre-school though…he’s nearly 3, but we’ll get there!!!), when my son will finish teething, when I will feel like a human being because I don’t have to get up through the night to one of the boys.
    With this in mind, what my child does and when he does it cannot be compared to any other persons child…but, the competitor in me wants my child to be first so that I appear to be a good mum, a good teacher, a consistent disciplinarian and a fantastic wife. We have such high expectations of ourselves!
    One thing, I think, that also contributes to mothers being competitive is the fact that we are now given so much freedom…we don’t have to get married at 18, we don’t have to have kids the minute we have the ring on our finger and we don’t have to spend our lives cooking, cleaning or even changing nappies if we don’t want to! We have choices that come with pressure to succeed. We have to be independent to survive…without a job we can’t move out of home, own a car, buy cool clothes that make us look better than the next girl that wins us the top guy. Without a career we aren’t a true woman (what do you mean you want to stay at home with your children and will take up a cashiers job if you need to help make ends meet if it means you actually get to see your children?).
    Although I am highly appreciative of many of the freedoms that have come with womens lib, I’m also sad at the way we then become competitive (have you only got a pram from Big W, well how are you going to go jogging with that?), over assertive with our husbands/partners because we can’t be submissive anymore and so independent that our way is always better.
    Anyway, rant rant rant…I completely agree with the need to stop pulling each other down…but when we stop this we also need to learn to ask for help, appreciate advice (note I didn’t say take on board all advice), encourage each other to persevere press on and don’t give up and remember NO-ONE is the same & therefore there is NEVER any comparison!

    Reply

  5. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) its not just motherhood thats competitive. I think its just human nature. We all need our choices to be validated at some point, some more than others. And we all judge our own choices against those of our peers at some point in an attempt to justify why our choice is better, forgetting that our choice might be better for us, their choice might be better for them.

    I know I try my hardest to be non judgmental but try as I might with some people I just do it. Some peoples choices I cannot understand no matter how much I try, no matter which perspective I try to look from. I guess at the end of the day we don’t need to answer to anyone but ourselves… but sometimes it’d be nice to have some people actually consider others before making their choices.

    Reply

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