Most new moms, like myself lol, have the tendency to (somewhat) brag about their kids – to a point it becomes a little (a LOT) annoying or sometimes even obnoxious to others; especially those who follow you on social media.
The ironic thing is everyone knows where and when to stop boasting about themselves, I mean I wouldn’t come on social media to brag about a job promotion or a new client, a business opportunity or a nice credit alert – but it seems there is no holds barred when its boasting about the LOs.
I admit, I am utterly thrilled by every single milestone J meets – from feeding himself, to using his potty, or his outstanding motor and cognitive skills – (damn it, I think I just bragged a little lol) every move he makes is a big deal to me; now I don’t know if this is a FTM (First Time Mom) thing or if it’s a “mom thing” generally. I remember my parents bragged a lot about me and my siblings when we were growing up – in fact they still do. They brag about all 8 of us!!! That’s a whole lot of bragging lol but you should see the pride and joy in my mom when she speaks about us – her 8 children, 4 daughters-in-law and now 7 grandchildren!!
Anyway, I digress.
With the rise of social media, every move a child makes for the first several years of his or her life is easily celebrated with not just applause and pride but the regular updates on instagram / facebook. All this child-centered bragging, despite its obvious contradiction with the social ideals of humility and respect for others, may be, a way parents (especially mothers, if we are being honest lol) tend to see parenting as a project, something to be programmed, organized and accomplished.
Personally, i have no issues with bragging about the LO. However, the most important thing, I think, is not to get so carried away with bragging about your child that your child becomes a yardstick for measuring your success in parenting / perhaps success in life even. So instead of thinking how awesome a mother you are, think how awesome a child you have, and how blessed you are to be their mom.
When next you feel the urge to brag about just how awesome your kid is, you may want to keep a few things in mind:
- Focus on your child’s effort, not the accomplishment:
A lot of times I talk about J’s progress because that matters to me more than what would be the accomplishment. So for instance, if he starts a Farm Animals puzzle today, I’m more interested in his progress in the coming weeks than whether or not he solves the entire puzzle in one day.
What matters to me is his progress, not necessarily perfection.
If you focus so much on bragging about your child’s accomplishments based on (what you believe is) your abilities, perhaps you should check your own personal insecurities. Don’t feel too bad about it.
- It’s not you, it’s them….really:
Unfortunately, some of us (new) moms tend to see our children’s accomplishments as a backhanded compliment to our amazing parenting skills and not the child’s natural abilities.
As if it was all your doing and the child had little to do with it. But the truth is that his/her awesomeness is God’s gift and has only little to do with you and your awesome parenting skills. Which is why siblings, even twins, raised in the same home by the same parents based on the same values can have such distinct characters and abilities!
I know my next child could be the complete opposite of J. In fact I think God gave me the world’s easiest baby, to encourage to have more than 1 (looool) — so I’m mentally preparing myself for the reality that J may have set the bar a little high in the “easy to manage kid” department, and what are the odds that lightening strikes twice for me, right?
Some of us moms would say, ‘Oh, my child sleeps through the night because I sleep trained her at 3 months’ or ‘My child never throws tantrums because we use the naughty corner” or “ Oh my child has been using a potty since 12 months because we started potty training at 9 months.” Well, it doesn’t always work that way, some mothers do try these things and just don’t get those results – so it’s not you and your awesome mothering skills, you just got blessed mama.
- Try not to belittle other moms
You may not realize this, but bragging about your child can sometimes undermine the abilities of another child who is still trying but hasn’t got to that stage of accomplishment. Not all babies / toddlers develop at the same rate, so it can be a little difficult for other moms to be around you who is bragging about your child’s rate of development if theirs isn’t quite at that stage yet.
Keeping that in mind, I’ve found that erring on the side of caution around other parents in terms of bragging is the best way to avoid hurt feelings. Honestly, when it comes to our LOs, all parents have insecurities.
The good news is, if you are “desperately” looking for someone to brag to, grandpa / grandma is always a good idea; nothing the grandparents love more than to hear of their grandkids latest milestones –plus there’s always your sister, or your colleague / friend with older kids (ahhhh they love that, the older more experienced moms love the reminiscing lol) and many other people whose feelings cannot get hurt by your bragging rights which you have oh so earned lol!
- I’ll take the “glory” with a delicious side of “gore”
My take is, be realistic about it, if you’re going to spill the glory, it may be very kind of you to also spill the gore.
For instance, if a friend says to you how her child hates reading or has only said 3 words at 2 years old, don’t respond by only telling her how your 18month old already makes long sentences, and has been reading since 9 months old.
Rather it may help to also chip in something your own child struggles with – like “even though J loves reading, he still struggles with his bed time routine or his feeding habits” – that way the other mom is reminded that while your struggles are different, she’s not alone.
However, I do have a golden rule – that I will never discuss J’s challenges / struggles with others when he is within earshot – because he may just be 18 months old but he hears and understands a lot. I’ve seen him give off shy glances or lower his head or put his 2 tiny palms over his face when I’m telling him off to his father, which means he understands when he is being told off or when his character is in question. So i won’t discuss his challenges with others if he’s within earshot, because I want my boy to know that I am always in his corner and that he can trust me with his setbacks.
- The timing is everything
With bragging rights, you have to time it properly. For instance, if you are in a gathering / an online forum /a social media page where moms are complaining about how much trouble breastfeeding is, it may not be a good time to scream “BREAST IS BEST” (WTF??) or brag about how great an experience it has been for you.
Or when you are in a forum where everyone is talking about how much trouble they are having getting their kids to eat well, it may not be the best time to proclaim that your LO is an AWESOME eater and has been eating on his own since eight months. Not now, maybe some other time.
- Listen to the ones who don’t brag
The next time you are in a mom circle / play date or mom-gathering and the bragging begins, notice that mom who is sitting quietly, not joining the bragging contest and consider that maybe, just maybe, she is struggling with her child’s development in some area that is uncomfortable for her to discuss. Perhaps, share a challenge of yours, or talk to her in private, or change the topic so she feels less uncomfortable.
I’ve decided that when next another mom goes on about how advanced her child is in this activity or that sport or in numbers or alphabets, I’ll simply smile and agree that he or she is probably gifted / a genius. I will hesitate the urge to compare notes. I mean, isn’t parenting hard enough without sizing each other up? BUT if you want to talk about how freaking hilarious and unbelievably kind your child is I can enjoy listening to you “brag” all day long about those qualities. Traditional formal education can be taught by anyone, but character, kindness and consideration for others are values that I hope J and my future kids learn and develop based on behavior they see at home.
I know I may brag about J sometimes but I’m extremely sensitive about it, how it comes off, and when I do it. However, I would never discuss J ‘s milestones with a mom whose child(ren) is struggling in those areas. Because even though he may be excelling in one area he is sure to be struggling in another. No child is gifted in everything; every child has their own gifts and their own challenges.
More importantly, I’ve found that whilst I want J to know how much he is loved when he achieves something, I also want him to feel loved even when he doesn’t achieve a feat / milestone – so that the bragging doesn’t do more harm to his self-esteem than good. It would be a disaster if your child only becomes (or feels) valued for their accomplishments (or your standard of what they should accomplish) and not for who he / she is as a person.
So let’s be honest: Are you a mom who brags about her kid(s) a lot, or do you have a no-bragging policy? Or are you an innocent by-stander who is a little irked or pleased by the seemingly uncontrollable child-bragging going on around you – even on social media? I swear, absolutely no judgment! If you do brag, are you even aware you’re doing it most of the time? Let’s discuss!
Love & Light,