Friday, May 17, 2013

Braggy Mom or Bloggy Mom?

I would not have the following conversation with a mom friend of mine:

Mom friend: “How are you today, Rachel?”

Me: “I’m great, mom friend. Claire just said an 11-word sentence, which was grammatically correct. It was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever heard. It made my day!”

I would share that sentiment with my husband, Claire’s grandma or a friend who doesn’t have kids. My friends without kids would probably say something in return like, “Cool! Is an 11-word sentence good?”

I was reluctant to start a post like this too, even though it's the truth about Claire's current state of language acquisition, as well as my feeling about her blossoming ability to share her thoughts with me.

After all, I’m breaking serious mom etiquette. I’m not supposed to a) admit to keeping track of my child’s development so blatantly as to count the words in her sentences or b) be bragging about her mad skills in any particular area. If you google “bragging mom”, you can find tons of articles shaming such officious behavior.

squawking


I’m by nature a rule follower. I fear I’m exposing an obnoxious, squawking side of myself that is derided by mothers everywhere.

It’s precisely because of my fear that I swing to the opposite direction in daily interactions, which is equally annoying. I find myself being apologetic, diminishing my daughter’s very own strengths. I can see the wheels turning in other mom's heads as they compare their child to my daughter:

“I can’t get over how Claire talks. Sarah doesn’t say a word yet,” mom friend said, recently. “Do you think she’s autistic?”

“Wow, I want Max to hang around Claire more often,” another mom friend said. “Why can’t he say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ like her?”

Another mom was more direct: “I’m jealous! I wish Cassie talked like that,” she said.

I can’t take these statements. I don’t like feeling that Claire and I have made other people feel bad or uncomfortable. I just can’t seem to help responding by sharing Claire’s weak spots. She does not have the greatest gross motor skills, and could care less about figuring out how things like puzzles and blocks work.

I do also make a point to share the strengths that I see in each child. Sarah has amazing emotional intelligence. Max is a great problem solver. Cassandra has a long attention span. I mean what I say too. If there's one thing that I learned as a teacher of kids with special needs, it’s that all children have strengths. We are better off focusing on a child’s strengths and interests than comparing him or her to others.

But it’s human nature to compare. I do it too. That’s fine. It’s also inevitable that we want to celebrate our own children’s abilities.

Yet, as I go to hit the publish button on this post, I’m still worried about how you will view my words. I'm praying that you'll see me as less of a braggy mom, and more of a bloggy mom wanting to shine some light on a complex issue. (You do, don't you? Please tell me you do!)

I doubt I’ll be doing any such bragging to my mom friends any time soon either. I’m probably going to stick to being proud of Claire with my husband, grandma and friends who don’t know any better.

I have made a pact with myself though. I refuse to diminish my daughter any longer. That stance is ridiculously excessive. It’s a projection to think that other mothers even want this kind of reaction from me anyway.

Besides, even if they do, Claire deserves a mom who errs on the side of singing her praises, not one who is worried about people seeing her as a braggart. (You don't, do you?)

How do you feel about sharing your child’s accomplishments? How about when others share their child’s accomplishments with you? Is there a difference between 'bragging' and 'celebrating a child'?  Do you ever find yourself comparing your children to others?


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Photo Source: Jeremiah John McBride, Flckr 

31 comments:

  1. Yes. This. Rachel, I like how you articulated this and you showed us your struggle with it which that in and of itself lets ME know that you're not braggy and that your daughter will be just fine with a mom who tempers her praise but still shows her love.

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  2. Rachel, I could truly relate to this post, because Lily (my younger daughter) talks circles around kids who are her age and older. She also was potty trained by two years old. She goes to dance class and I get all the time similar responses from parents like you described above. I too try o hard to downplay if, but then do feel guilty like I am short changing her at this point. What a fine line we have to walk on this. Thank you for writing this, because I really read this and felt a little less alone on this one for sure.

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  3. You are definitely a bloggy mom shedding light on a complex issue--but darnit, it's okay to be a braggy mom, too! Just be natural and be you--and if that includes a little bit of bragging about your kid, that's okay! We all do it. :)

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    1. Did that sound bossy? It was meant to be light-hearted and kind of silly, but it may have come across the wrong way. Either way, your post was great. :)

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  4. I thought this was a great post that addressed a side of braggy mom blogs that never gets talked about. Personally, it doesn't bother me to read others bragging about their children. In fact, I am happy for them. I know I am just as proud of my daughter. Maybe I'm not bothered by parents being proud of their kids because I know their intentions are not to make me feel bad.

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  5. Great, great post, Rachel. And Claire does have amazing language skills! I noticed it right away.

    I think you articulated something very important. It's hard not to compare. But here's the place I've arrived with all of that: it's up to me to feel calm about Henry's development vis-a-vis other children's. It's up to me to feel proud of him for his achievements and say 'thanks, I think you're right!' when others notice it. It's up to me to not be envious or catty. H will notice if I'm freaking out about his progress. And all I care about is his happiness. Not his language acquisition, not his motor skills.

    I guess my point is it's not your job to make me feel secure about my son! Some people will always be covetous and unhappy and envious.

    Did that make sense or did I ramble too much? It's getting late... :)

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  6. This topic is fascinating, and I related so much to your post. I have done that exact same thing with my kids, especially with friends whose kids are "out of control" or have any kind of behavior issue. I make sure and reference the crappy things my daughter did, too. I wish I had the answers- I think I choose very specific friends for very specific reasons when talking about my kids. Talk about compartmentalizing- the friend whose daughter is equally bright, the friend who also has a sensitive child, the friend whose kid is naughty... great job with a challenging issue.

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  7. It's ok to be a braggy mom! :) You have heard that right.

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  8. This is a really good topic to blog about, Rachel. When my kids were young, I was just like you---I was very proud of my kids' accomplishments but when someone pointed them out, I felt uncomfortable and would then mention the things they were slower at. And yet at the same time, I found myself quietly comparing other children to my own to see if my kids were at the developmental level they needed to be. I also remember feeling like a bad parent if my kid didn't meet the same accomplishments that others did. I think though that you are handling the situation well now--no one likes a braggart. You can share Claire's accomplishments with close friends and family. If someone asks you about her though, be honest and be encouraging to the other parent that eventually all kids reach the same milestones. Just because one is slow with speech or potty training doesn't mean they are going to be slow with it when they are grown. We all catch up eventually...

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  9. I am so glad you blogged about this topic! My son is highly intelligent, but has severe ADD and is possibly on the spectrum. Yet I am quick to point out the funny things that my son does that are perhaps a bit unusual, but not so quick to say things that might come off as braggy. I think I was just conditioned to do this! I would never want to make someone feel uncomfortable, and I'm always very aware of that. I do the same thing with my daughter as well!

    But as a Mom, we should be bragging about our children and the things they CAN do, because it's our right as a mom! :-D I need to learn that...

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  10. My kids are 11 and 8 and I went through this when they were younger. I made the decision, much like you did, to never slight my children's accomplishments for fear of people around me. Now that you have made that decision, things will get much easier for you. Sharing your kid's accomplishments won't cause this conflict in you.
    I also had to realize that when it came to friends, if I couldn't celebrate my kids around them and have them be happy for me, they didn't need to be a friend of mine. And if a reader gets upset about you talking about your daughter's accomplishments, then they won't read your blog anymore. But it's their problem, not yours, and for every person who thinks you are bragging, there are 10 people glad that you shared and are very happy for you- look at all the comments above mine if you don't believe me. ;)
    Like I said, it gets easier as your kids get older. Thanks for posting this. =)

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  11. I can totally relate to this post. I remember when Isaiah was younger (and even know) he had a very extensive vocabulary, and other moms were constantly wowed by his word choices. It was hard for me not to say "yeah but your kid is eating real food, he's still eating baby food" (which was true) or "well he didn't start walking until he was 18 months." You are right about not doing that, I have stopped. I hope I stopped early enough, you have made a very important decision and in NO way do I see this as bragging. You brought a very real dilemma to light.

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  12. I'm one of those childless people who would have probably asked for a benchmark :D

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  13. Praise on mama! I feel the same-I'm not only an older parent to a 17mos old but my younger friends have older kids. I don't share too much of anything. 1. they just nod and smile and throw out "that's great" 2. they just not and smile and say nothing but think I'm just a new mom who thinks their kids is the greatest.

    I think it's great to tout the strengths! Something to prove mom was/is always proud~blog on bloggy mom blog on

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  14. It's not bragging to be excited about your child's developments. True friends celebrate with you. Unless your conversations are nearly always centered around "Here's how amazing my kid is" friends want to hear what is happening in your parenting journey. Remember to ask about theirs, and to remember that all people, big and little, have strengths and weaknesses. Be gracious when someone else's child reaches a milestone before yours does. Everyone is on their own schedule.

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  15. I do sometimes think twice before sharing my daughter's accomplishments. I think I should be able to, but I am always worried how someone will take it. It does not necessarily stop me--just makes me think. I don't see this as bragging, though. I know some moms that all they ever do is talk about their child and nothing else. Now, that is bragging!

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  16. I think it is about moderation. For example, if a friend says my son doesn't know his numbers yet, don't say that Claire is doing geometry. You should be able to brag about your child. That is being a mom

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  17. This is an interesting thing to contemplate. On the blog, I say what I want and it goes both ways, w/the pretty and the not-so-pretty. I consider that to fall in the 'bloggy mom,' not 'braggy mom,' zone. In person though... I'm not sure what I do. I certainly don't brag or diminish, but I do instantly point out other children's positive attributes too, like you mentioned doing, when such things come up. That's funny that I never noticed it until you wrote about it.

    And wooooooot to your little one saying a grammatically correct 11-word sentence! That totally rocks (in a mommy bloggy, not braggy kind of way!).

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  18. I actually think it's okay to share your child's strengths and to point out to worrying mothers that their kids also have strengths yours may not. It's the intent that's more important - so how you say it, not what you say. As long as your intention is to foster understanding and connection then I feel sure the mothers you talk to (or who read this) will get that. There's a huge difference between how that comes across and how people who just want to be competitive come across.

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  19. I don't see this as a bragging mom, but as a proud mama! And as you said, each child has some strength. Whether it's their emotional maturity, or their physical coordination, or their ability to speak an 11 word sentence.

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  20. Oh please, never in a million years would I have considered that bragging. You're simply celebrating your child's accomplishment! You know, this post really made me stop and do some thinking. I think I'm guilty of sharing my girls' weak spots, and that makes me incredibly sad. Often, it's in joking, but I need to be mindful of my words. I'm glad you posted this-made me think. I plan on doing a better job of lifting them up with my words

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  21. It is wonderful you want to tell the world how proud you are of her achievements, also great that you can see her faults too :) It is human nature to compare, I see the things that Izzy is better at than other kids her age, there are things that I do notice she is not good at. That is her though, and I would never push her to be like anyone else but herself. It's all about praising the good :)

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  22. You are a proud Mom and that's wonderful. Do I compare my kids with others...? Yes, but mostly with each other since all four of our kids are the same age. It's hard not to compare milestones and abilities (while at the same time reminding myself that they are individuals with their own timelines.
    : 0 ) Theresa (Capri + 3)

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  23. I don't see you as a braggie mom AT ALL and I think it's wonderful that Claire said an 11-word sentence. There are moms that brag and moms who share their excitement when their children do exceptional things. There's a huge difference (maybe it's in the delivery?) and you are NOT the braggie icky kind. I promise.
    I count how many words are in my son's sentences too. His are a lot easier to keep track of and I totally share the improvements he's making. Sometimes just with my husband but also with pretty much the whole world if they hint at wanting to know.

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  24. I don't think your a braggy Mom Rachel! When others talk about their kids, I feel more like their making conversation rather than bragging. And I personally understand being excited about something new your child learns, and wanting to share the news :)

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  25. i think the difference between bragging and celebrating your child's achievements is a matter of timing. If I am chatting with a Mum friend and she randomly says "hey guess what my son did X" I will think, thats awesome she is proud and I will be happy to celebrate with her. But If the convo goes more like this: Me "Goblin has started swimming without armbands" my friend" Oh yes my son started doing that last month and now he can swim several meters isn't it fantastic how clever our kids are", I am less inclined to think they are celebrating kids successes and more inclined to think they are trying to compete.
    It is a tricky one though because often when a mum says something about their kid it triggers you to say something that your own child did that was similar which can sound like bragging and competing rather than just agreeing.
    I'm sharing your post on SPP pinterest board

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  26. I don't think it's braggy... it's nice to be proud of your kids. If you went on and on about it and then slammed other people's kids, that would be different.

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  27. Brag about your children now, all you want. Because when they get older, they usually do their own thing and you wonder, what you went wrong. I love my older kids but brag about them? Sorry to say, I can't.

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  28. Thanks so much for linking up with us this past week for the Monday Mingle at Tough Cookie Mommy. I would love to connect on Facebook too http://facebook.com/toughcookiemommy

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  29. Oh yes, you are so right that it is human nature to compare. We all do it - I think I err on the side of being slightly braggy, but I don't have a lot of friends with children so that makes it easier on me ;)

    Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link-Up! :) Please come back on Tuesday to see if you were featured :)

    Christine
    www.africanbabiesdontcry.com

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  30. We all want to brag about our children - everything they do seems wonderful to us! But what we have to remember is other people aren't all that impressed by these things. Parents and grandparents get excited about small - and big - accomplishments, but beyond that people aren't as interested. I think it's great to share and show pride in your child, but there needs to be monitoring.

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