It’s getting vicious out there. I hear many stories about parents surviving the school run and returning home flustered and verbally battered. Many parents seem convinced there is something wrong with their children as constant comparisons are bandied about. Thus exacerbating any average Mum’s (or Dads but I will stick to the female perspective for the sake of this post) insecurities about her skills as a parent. The stories remindÂ me how little I miss some of my earlier primary school encounters at my son’s school. There will always be cliques. There will always be pushy overbearing mothers. The Mother who lives for the moment when she can tell you that he child has been chosen for a special award or is top of the class.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing good news but the unspoken air of competition eradicates a supportive network and replaces it with a frenzied group of over zealous parents trying to live vicariously through their offspring.
I say – get a life. One day when little Johnny or Lettie grow up, your focus will have been removed and then what will be left? Your life will seem emptier than ever before and you will have completely lost your identity.
Some Mothers can be exceptionally cruel and it is often the mum’s who show off the most and have the most obvious ‘look at me and my wonderful children’ attitude that are the ones who feel the most inferior and inadequate.
I avoided becoming associated with any particular group and cultivated a separate group of friends, away from school, that I felt connected to rather than spending too much time with a group of competitive mums that left me feeling paranoid and neurotic about my son’s future.
Their chatter fed into my own insecurities and I allowed their warnings about what would be required at school for success to filter through to my emotional department. I panicked and had visions of my son ending up as a hobo on park bench if any of what they said was true!
I see many clients who brave the school gate and who tell me they leave feeling deflated. How can that be a good thing? What is going on that leaves parents anxious and dreading seeing other parents?
Many parents explain how they look around at all the other parents and feel inadequate. As if they are not as organised as other parents are. Don’t ever buy into this as you don’t really know the reality of other people’s lives. Everyone puts on a face and tries to put their best foot forward.
Here are a few tips to survive playground politics:
1) Don’t ever compare yourself to other parents. We are all different and we all have strengths and weaknesses. Whose to say that their ideas and attitudes are better than yours?
2) Focus on your child and their happiness. Playground politics can shift the focus away from what is truly important.
3) Know your values and morals and stick to your parenting ideal. Be true to yourself and cultivate self belief.
4) Avoid getting caught up in politics. It is damaging and toxic
5) Be open, friendly and approachable but maintain your independence
6) Gravitate towards parents with a similar mindset to yours.
7) Keep perspective. We panic in the moment but a year later, we wonder why we ever took an issue so seriously.
If all else fails, turn up at school in your pyjamas 😉 and don’t given a damn about others. As long as your child is happy and receiving a good education, that is all that really matters!
For a bit of fun..try Mandy’s iphone app: Life Wisdom https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/life-wisdom/id392898772?mt=8
Â More on Mandy: https://www.mandyjane-lifedesign.com The author of this blog lives in Surrey, UK and offers counselling to couples and individuals. All names have been changed to protect the identity of clients. Personal client stories shared in this blog have been published with prior permission from the relevant clients.