Recently one of my clients lamented, “Dr. Shosh, the women in my new moms group are always competing with each other! They show off their baby gear and ways of handling their babies as if they’ve got the BEST way. It drives me crazy!”
New mothers in general tend to be unsure of themselves. The damaging myth that motherhood is instinctual is unfortunately still alive and well, and this fosters doubt when, as new moms, we don’t know what to do. “If motherhood is instinctual and I’m not feeling confident, maybe there’s something wrong with me,” is a common worry. When one mom sounds as if she’s got it all figured out, it can push other moms’ doubt buttons, and then the games begin – each trying to outdo the other.
The answer to the problem lies in understanding why it’s happening in the first place. What insecure people need – in this case new moms - is support and validation. For example, if one mom touts the way she helped her baby sleep through the night and says it’s the “best” way, don’t argue with her or try to top it with your way. Remember, the stronger her attempt is to impress others, the greater her insecurity. Say something like, “That’s great you found a way that works for you and your baby! Good job.” That gives her what she’s craving (support and validation) and it doesn’t minimize other methods that you and other moms might have found.
The key to having a supportive new moms group without competition is to create an atmosphere of, “to each her own.” In other words, there isn’t just one best way to do anything – each mom will experiment and come up with ways that work for her and her children. Likewise, there are many good strollers on the market, each type with its specific strengths. The same stroller won’t be best for all moms and babies, since our needs differ greatly.
Get in the mode of genuinely complimenting other mothers and their choices. And of course, make sure you’re not adding to the competitive atmosphere yourself. You can still talk about your methods and the baby gear you’ve selected, but watch the energy you surround it with as you share. If there’s an air of arrogance or trying to convince others that your way is best, you’re probably coming from an insecure place.
Remember to validate yourself first! Your decisions are good ones. To learn and entertain new ideas from what others share is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean you made a bad choice or made a mistake. Supporting yourself first and foremost and helping yourself feel good about your own choices will make it much easier for you to help set the tone when you’re with other moms.