Bensten_Parenting in a Competitive World_Large

Parenting in a Competitive World

Author: Jessica Woolwine
Published Date: Wednesday, June 01, 2016

I grew up in a very competitive family. Loving, but competitive.

You’d think since my brother, sister and I are all adults with children of our own, our competitive tendencies would dissipate with age. Nope. It’s true that we aren’t playing kickball in the cul-de-sac at dusk these days, but opportunities for a good takedown still present themselves.

One example: this year’s Easter egg hunt.

Our parents had set up a huge egg hunt for the six grandchildren. Most of our kids are 4 years old and under, so they need help with the concept. The moment our Dad started the countdown …I kid you not … all three of us found ourselves, babies and Easter baskets in our arms, crouching lower, narrowing our eyes, and getting our feet ready for GO.

Disgusting, I know. We’re just hardwired this way.

Logically, I know my poor nieces and nephews don’t want to be slide tackled by Aunt Jessica. But when you’re bred for victory, things happen. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll eat their Wheaties so they can get the eggs with the good chocolate next year.

I’m kidding. (Sort of.)

Having children opened my eyes to competition by comparison.

Take little Henry, for example. He had his 6-month well checkup last week. He’s a good, solid little guy at just under 18 pounds. His cheeks let everyone know he hasn’t missed a meal. I could, and do, gobble them every day.

Yet, once he was weighed and measured, the pediatrician announced he was perfectly proportional and in the 50th percentile.

Wait…all those marathon nursing sessions … and we just got 50th percentile? Out of 100 kids, 50 percent are smaller, but 50 percent are bigger?

We all compare our kids to their peers. It might be weight, academic achievements, developmental milestones or that my kid is the only one on stage picking their nose during the spring program.

Been there, done that.

It’s natural to look to our left and right, but is it fair?

I’ll just go ahead and answer my own question: No!

Each child is different. Just like they’re born with blonde or brown hair, light or dark skin, as an introvert or extrovert, each child is their very own person. Thank goodness for that. Who wants a world full of artists when we need scientists, too?

Not me.

Personally, this lesson came during times of struggle. I realized it wasn’t good to compare Jackson to his peers during cancer treatment. If I’d focused on his bald head and gray skin compared to his friends, I would have missed the twinkle in his eyes when he thought something was funny.

And if I’d cared to compare Abby to a full-term baby when she was born, I’d never see the beauty in the strength of a one-pound preemie.

There’s nothing that can compete with that.

About Jessica Woolwine

Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.