Way too many parents are competitive. They see the car their neighbor is driving and they want to get a better one. They hear that a friend’s kid got into a fancy school and they think, “My kid is smarter. I’ve got to get them in there too.” We want to make more money than other parents, we want our kids to beat other kids in sports, we want our kids to be cuter than other kids, we want our houses to be cleaner.
Needless to say, this is mostly toxic and negative. But that competitive urge is hard to get rid of. So where should we channel it? We’ve told you about Jeannie Gaffigan before, whose haunting story of a surprise pear-sized tumor changed her and her family’s life. She found a good outlet. She explained that during her recuperation from the surgery her husband brought out a new side of himself and created a healthy, positive dynamic in their relationship:
I noticed that Jim started learning all about the day to day stuff. Out of necessity, but I feel like in my recovery, he has a whole different level of appreciation for me. And also he’d do things like my son Jack was going to like all these bar mitzvahs every weekend because everyone was turning 13. And I’m bad at tying ties, but I would do it because he wasn’t home. And then he would be like, when he does something better than me, he brags about it. He’s like, ‘who ties the better tie?’ So there was a lot of this kind of fun competition of who made eggs better. And it was a different level of our relationship because before he was not doing that stuff.
Don’t compete with other dads, or other families. Compete with your spouse. Compete with their mother. Who can use their phone less? Who can get them down to bed fastest? Who can convince the kids to do that thing they hate doing with the least amount of arguing? Who can pick up the most slack? Who can get up earliest and start breakfast? Who can complain the least?
You’ll both be better and happier for it. Your kids might not notice…but they’ll be happier and better for it too.