PARENTS

Is It OK To Boast About Your Child?

21/04/2012 15:04 | Updated 22 May 2015
Proud motherRex

I have just witnessed my two-year-old complete a jigsaw puzzle aimed at 4-7 year olds. This is the same child who was talking in full sentences when she was 18 months old, potty trained herself, and can count to 32.

However I would never mention any of this to anyone, apart from my husband, and maybe her grandparents. In fact, after five years of motherhood I tend to go completely the other way when discussing my children's skills.

This is because I have learnt that just about anything you say about your child can be perceived as being boastful and competitive by other mums.

Perhaps the most completely random example was when I once said to a fellow mum: "I find it a bit odd that my daughter likes chewing on raw garlic."

"Oh well you've got the perfect child haven't you Elsie," she retorted. I was gobsmacked. All I was doing was trying to have a conversation and a bit of a laugh with this woman.

I have also developed a sensitivity towards other mums. If your toddler refuses to eat vegetables, the last thing in the world you want to hear from another mum is how amazing their child is at eating EVERYTHING. I have been guilty of this in the past, but I don't think this was through wanting to sound amazing (OK, perhaps just a little), but mainly through thoughtlessness.

This was partly down to the fact that when my eldest daughter was born, I was totally clueless and absolutely terrified. She cried non-stop for six weeks, she wouldn't feed properly and I felt completely useless as a mother. So the first opportunities I had to say something remotely impressive about my child like "she loves roast lamb" or "she pointed at the window", I would find myself blurting it out.

However, I remember I got to the stage, after many meetings with all sorts of different mums, where I became terrified about engaging in any kind of conversation which was even remotely baby-related for fear of appearing smug, or defensive. I also began to tire of the endless conversations about milestones. I realised I really don't care what other babies weigh, or eat for breakfast.

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I knew that I had turned a corner when my daughter was cast as Mary in the pre-school nativity, but when asked by a fellow parent who my daughter was playing, I casually told her that I thought she was probably a sheep or a cow.

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My eldest daughter, now five, recently had her first school report. I was bursting with pride at her teacher's comments, and wanted to shout it from the roof tops. I was desperate to tell my friends how well my daughter was doing with reading, writing and maths. But I was worried that I would either look like I was showing off, or worse, implying criticism of their children. So if friends ask how she is getting on I say something non-committal like: "She quite likes going on the school bus."

Julia, a mum of one, disagrees with my cautious approach and says that children's accomplishments should be celebrated. "Parents have every right in the world to talk honestly and passionately about their children's achievements, and any friend who takes offence to this needs to be ditched," she says.

However, Steve, dad of two, says: "Of course no one is interested in how well your child is doing at school, it is utterly boring to anyone other than the parents. If a friend shows me his child's school report I not only won't look at it but I'll stare at him until he goes away."

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So how do we, as parents, negotiate this minefield? Is it ok to talk about your child's achievements or can bragging about your child become obnoxious?

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According to Claire, a teacher from St Helens, she says that when talking of your child's achievements to other parents it can be perceived as boasting, and so she advises that parents should "choose their words very carefully".

However, she says it IS ok to boast to the teacher: "I worry far more about a parent who doesn't tell me anything about their child's achievements, than a parent who is constantly sending in certificates and photographs of their child's ability to write their name in Swahili!"

Anna, a mother of two, says: "I would love to say that I'm not guilty of boasting about my children's achievements, and that others simply notice their enigmatic character and genius, but I spend hours uploading video footage of them to send to anyone who will show the faintest interest."

And Anna admits that a small part of this is down to the fact that she wants to be seen as an amazing parent. "But I would hope that it's mostly down to the fact that I want others to love my children just a fraction as much as I do. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that," she says.

So, after five years and two children, I am now very cautious when speaking about my children in a positive light. This seems a great shame, especially as they are obviously both the brightest and most adorable children ever to walk the planet. But if I really feel the need to let out some pent up praise for my kids, I can always go and find their teacher...

What do you think?

Do you boast about your children because, frankly, why wouldn't you? Or do you keep the showing off to very close family?

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