13 November 2009

Is It Bragging or Simply Parental Pride?


(With the weekend coming up, I'm hoping that you will have time to read through a wordier and longer post than usual.)

I felt compelled to write this after reading in a mommy forum about how to handle parents who brag. The question from the original poster was “How do you handle parents who love to brag about their kids? [Or] worse, love to compare..?”

She got the following advice:
  1. Simply tell them that you don’t like to compare, that each child is unique;
  2. Try to understand that they are just proud parents and probably don't know that they're coming across as bragging.
  3. Ignore them/ tune them out.
  4. Short of telling them outright, …make a joke and hope that they'll get the message. Something like, "Wow, I hope my other friends/parents/in-laws aren't bored to tears. I'm forever telling them my child did this and that every time I see them, whether they asked or not. Sometimes I can't help myself, but I need to remember that they might not be as ‘into’ my child as I am!"
And then the rest of the thread kind of branched away from the original question to the discussion of what is classified as bragging. One poster thinks it is “poor form to go on about anything, especially ourselves or our children.” Should you never volunteer anything at all about any of your child’s achievements to other people outside of family? Is it a cultural thing what one considers simply sharing and what another might perceive as bragging? When specifically asked, are you shy about providing information about your child that, while true, might be perceived as bragging? If you feel that your answer might put the other child in a less attractive light, do you find yourself throwing in bits of your child’s weaker points to “balance out” the equation? Who is the more insecure of the two: The mother who “brags” or the mother who feels that the other is bragging?

Reading through Tonggu Momma’s post about a similar issue a little over a week ago, the many comments she received on it and also reading through this thread today got me thinking.

My take on this entire issue is that as parents, we are certainly entitled to a certain amount of pride about our children’s achievements (big and small). When we have happy news, we very naturally want to “share.” I know I do. I am guilty of wanting to talk about Josh and Zoë 99% of the time. Fortunately, the people whose ears I bend on this are Chris, our parents, and our helper –all who, I know, share in my love and pride for these two little ones.

Yes, I blog about them here and yes, I do even have a separate blog that just showcases Josh’s “masterpieces.” Is that bragging? Um, yes, if you consider “volunteering info about one’s children” bragging. All my posts about them are based on actual facts, though. Actual things that they had said and done. And my posts about them certainly are not written with any intent other than my wanting to document moments, my thoughts and feelings at the time, in the hopes that one day when we are all older, we will have this to look back on and help remember.

The thing is, I am amazed at these two tikesters –not so much in terms of how smart they are, but really more in the sense of the “discovery” I get when I look at them and see how far they’ve come from the tiny, helpless babies they were not too long ago. I marvel at what they know and do and say, not so much in a “Wow-my-kid-is-super-smart” way, but more in the way a mother would find wonderment and delight in the discovery that her children, whom she had housed in her womb for 9+ months, are “evolving.”

Now, if I were on the receiving end of another parent’s “bragging” about their children, I try to remind myself that I, too, think that my children are the bee’s knees. For as long as they don’t start comparing in a competitive way, for as long as they don’t give me an enlarged photo of their child expecting that I display it at my house (yes –this was apparently what the original poster in the forum was subjected to!), I’d be more than happy to listen and share their delight in their children.

I would love to hear your take on this. Should there be a Motherhood 101 class where we learn how much is too much, when it comes to talking about our children?

Images: ImpactLab / Thought balloons: Mine


Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

There's a huge difference between bragging and sharing your kids lives with those who really do want to hear about it.

When my youngest was training in gymnastics, there was a mom that went on and on about, "Her Jilly". It got to a point that I was beginning to wonder if Jilly walked on water. The point is, you share not only the good things but also the things that we as moms can definitely relate to.

Keep those Mommy Proud moments coming!!

Alicia said...

Wow...I bet that forum got TONS of comments on that one!!

I think there are some people who purposely brag about their kids, and also compare them to others (to a point where it can become offensive to someone else). On the other hand, some people take it the wrong way because they may feel like their child isn't doing the same thing.

Just like you, I only "brag" about them to people I know who are really interested (hubby aunt, & grandparents). But, it's not really bragging, it's just sharing something you are really excited about, and you know they will share that same feeling with you.

Stephanie Stearns Dulli said...

I was just thinking about this the other day! When I talk about Max and his accomplishments I am not feeling so much like bragging, but more like wanting to share the joy that his discoveries bring! I know...all kids do this, I am looking more for sharing in my joy and the other mothers joy over her kids discoveries! I can understand how she must be thrilled he said 'truck' ya know? I'm not sure if I'll find that, but if you tell me a story about your kid and I respond in kind I can guarantee I'm not trying to one up! I'm thrilled we can chat about how amazing children are!

Nezzy said...

It is a parental rite of passage to brag about our childrens accomplishments, large and small. It is the rite of a grandparent to exceed above and beyond that, that is tolerable to any other human.

I personally do not consider what you write about your personable children on the blog a bragging but more as sharing. Please keep on sharing the antics of Josh and Zoe we love it!!!

Have a fun day!!!

Aunt LoLo said...

This is a tough one for me...I've never really come across any Bragging Mommies...at least none that brag more than me. At church, there are several little guys and gals that are Siu Jeun's age/size...we compare notes ALL THE TIME, and commiserate when one learns to walk early (siu Jeun) or gets 8 teeth by her 9 month birthday and congratulate each other when one learns to talk/run/ etc. The thing is that we're all FRIENDS. If it was just classmates...I would never volunteer the information.

That's what the blog is for. ;-)

Elle Bee said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. As long as it's not comparison talk (and as long as it's not obnoxious), we just have to recieve other parents' bragging with a measure of grace. How can we fault them for the delight and awe you mention, that we all feel for our kidlets?
Great post!

Menopausal New Mom said...

That's a very interesting post you've done today. I know that my own daughter is behind on speaking and potty training but far ahead of the game in her music and art abilities. Personally, when others comment on how she should be more verbal or potty trained, I usually just tell them that I'm not overly concerned, all children are different and excel in different areas. By the time they are ready for school, they pretty much have the basics down regardless if it's been since the age of 3, 4, or 5. I don't pressure my little one or make a big deal out of it. She's an individual and that's how I treat her.

A bit long-winded here, sorry about that!

smiles4u said...

I do think that it all depends on the type of bragging it is...such as if it is comparing their child to others or when it gets to the point that the parent talks as if their child is not even human, that does get sickening to listen to.

The kind of bragging that I see here and on other mommy blogs I visit is enduring and not what I consider as bragging in a arrogant, my child is better then yours kind of way. I enjoy reading the stories and seeing the pictures. I love being reminded of the innocence of being young and the joy children bring to their parents.

The thing is, I would think it was strange if you didn't talk the way you do about your children. I think you should be proud of your children for being smart and good and beautiful. They are a big part of your life so I would expect to hear about that.

I personally don't mind listening to parents talk postively about their children. I have been around parents that do just the opposite and it is heart breaking.

Parents that love their children and are totally into them, are just going to naturally talk about their children....some more than others. Some parents just may not have any other outlets for their lives so this is all they have to talk about. Some parents may just not have anyone else to talk to. And of course there will always be the few parents that think their child is the perfect child and go over board with it. I don't think there is anything we can do to change them. I do think the advice given up above are good points and good to keep in mind.

This is your place to record these memories of your children. Those of us that visit here, know this and expect to hear about them and see the adorable pictures...so keep on sharing. XXOO Lori

PS Even my children enjoy seeing the pictures of Josh and Zoe! :)

blueviolet said...

If it's being done in terms of my child is better than yours... that would be bad. That's what I've encountered.

And honestly, I'm delighted to hear about my friend's children and their successes but I don't want to listen to it for 10-15 minutes each time.

LPC said...

I think it's all about the audience. If you have a high-achieving kid, I found you really do have to keep most of it to yourself in most environments. Other people feel badly, no matter your intent. But to those who can share your happiness, the sky is the limit. And here, where we can all choose to show up or not, you should say whatever you want to and we will applaud.

Herb of Grace said...

THought provoking post, thanks!

I've never really come across any Bragging Moms-- that is, mom's who deliberately compare their child to another in order to build up their child's image at the expense of the other child. On the other hand, my friends and I are constantly "comparing" our children, by talking about how different and unique and individual they each are. You know what I mean? So I don't think either bragging or comparing are hurtful, in and of themselves. It's about the motive of the speaker more than anything.

Wanda said...

That's the beauty of a blog - people can choose to visit (and hear us praise up or rag on our kids)or not.

I never get the sense that the blogs I read are bragging. Just sharing the joys of their kids. I delight in it. (And it's why I love coming here.)

Lindy said...

I'll talk about my kid, I'll brag about my kid, I'll tell everybody how awesome I think she is and not really care what anybody else thinks.

On the flip side, I WANT to hear about my friends' kids and what they are doing and what they are accomplishing.

We are all just trying to make it through each and every day. :)

golonghorns said...

I've never given this topic any thought. I consider blogging to be a journaling of the events going on in one's life and household. It's fun to share the things that make us smile and bring us joy. My family and friends are not near and this is they way I keep in touch and along the way I've made blogging friends. We all love it when someone leaves us a comment, that validates what we have to say on our blogs. If I lived closer to HK I think my kids would have a blast with your kids! :)

ModernMom said...

Great post!
I think there is a great difference between pride and bragging. You can be proud of your child's accomplishments and share them with the world without being all "my kid is better then your kid" (something I sadly see in competitive sports every day)

I agree with Lindy. I want to hear about Friends and family's kids:) Life is meant to enjoy and to share!

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

I think it's all the perception of the person who is on the receiving end...the "bragger" might not mean to brag, they're just happy about something their kids have done. I know I've been guilty of it without meaning to be. I just try to remember that when I'm sitting next to the mom in dance class with the "perfect" daughter! :)

Tanya said...

This Tee following from the MBC! You can follow
me here: http://thegrabbag-tanya.blogspot.com/

a Tonggu Momma said...

You know, I'm still struggling with this one... because I have a wickedly smart child who also has special needs, which means she has a huge parity between skills she does well and those where she lags behind. When I hear others brag on their children, when its in areas where the Tongginator struggles, I am SO happy for them, but my concerns for the Tongginator still bubble under the surface. And I rarely brag on her in the areas where she excels (such as reading)... I've found most others don't respond well, even I just make one, simple statement, so I pretty much keep my mouth shut now.

Six Feet Under Blog said...

I think a parent is just proud but just as long as they don't belittle your own child in the process.

Rule-Of-Thumb said...

I've so enjoyed finding your blog, that I've given you an award! http://rule-of-thumb.com/2009/11/14/my-first-award/

(The Obnoxious SAHM) said...

It is part of our mother instinct to brag. (just the baby talk from mothers (I'm excused of course) drives me mad and crazy.

2 Toddlers and Me said...

I think it's our right as parents to brag about and be proud of our kids. If people don't want to hear about it they can politely change the subject.

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