Q: Since having my son 18 months ago I have made a circle of parenting friends. However, there is one in our group who is very nice but extremely competitive - her son always has to be the first to achieve a new skill when at times it's very clear he hasn't! Am I wrong not to believe her? And what can I do about this situation? She's driving us mad but I still feel like a bad friend.
A: Every mother takes great pride in her child's latest achievements and it is of course natural to want to share these with other mums and celebrate their progress. While most of us love to hear about these achievements, there does of course come a point where it becomes a bit too much, so you are not a bad friend to her for feeling this way.
It is a fact that babies and toddlers develop at different rates, and they will often pick up one skill with relative ease and another at a more leisurely pace. For example, some will walk quickly while others may learn language at a faster rate. However - like the vast majority of us - it is impossible for him to be good at everything, so it is no wonder you are not particularly inclined to believe what your friend is telling you, especially if you never see these things in action.
This is not an easy situation to address, but there are a few things you could try. Maybe it would be worth having a one- to-one chat over coffee, and to try to find out why she feels her son has to achieve everything first. Perhaps she is secretly worried about her son's development and is hiding it by implying that he is particularly advanced?
If you don't think this is the case perhaps you could subtly express that, while everyone is delighted to hear about her son's achievements, there are others in the group who would like to talk about and celebrate their child's latest milestone too. She may not realise she is doing it, and a quiet word in her ear might help her to realise how competitive she has become.
If all else fails, then your final option would of course be to spend less time with her, although this may be a little unfair on her son if he enjoys the company of all the other children. So it is definitely worth trying to see if a few subtle hints could resolve this situation for good.
Do you know a competitive mother? Have you chosen to ignore the rivalry or tackle the issue? Leave a comment below...