Compete on This

We all find ourselves in competition with other parents. Maybe we see how our car compares to everyone else’s at school dropoff. We see some other dad at a pool party with abs and it reminds us to get back into the gym, or we dress up real fancy for that school fundraiser, hoping to turn heads. On some occasions the competition transfers to our kids: we want to make sure they have the same gadgets as their peers; we look at what colleges they can get into compared to their friends and we start to push them to be valedictorian or captain of the baseball team or president of the student council.

This is not just a superficial competition but a stupid and possibly destructive one (as those “Varsity Blues” parents serving prison sentences should remind us). It’s one we’ll inevitably lose too—because there will always be someone richer, someone hotter, someone whose kids are more naturally gifted, or genetically blessed, or athletically inclined.

If you’re going to compete with anyone, we should tell our kids, compete with yourself, to be the best version of yourself. Compete over things you actually control. And, make no mistake, we should take that advice ourselves. Forget what other parents are doing. Compete with yourself to be more present, to be kinder, to have more fun with your kids. Be the parent who spends the most time with their kids, not the most money. Be the parent with the best relationship with their kids, not the parent with the best car. Raise a good kid, not the highest ranked kid.

Compete with yourself. Try to beat what you got from your own parents. Focus on the stuff that’s up to you.

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