Sunday, December 17, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Competition between friends should stop

Q: I became pregnant at a young age, unplanned, and have been married and raising my child since. My friend traveled the more traditional route, dating, finishing college, and marrying before having children, which took some extraordinary effort; think many trips to fertility doctors and all that might entail.

Now, when children are the topic of our conversation and natural comparisons start taking place, the distinct tone of her comment is that she cherishes these milestones so much more than I do because I got pregnant "accidentally" whereas she had to work hard at it.

I think I can imagine the anguish and stress that serious infertility issues might cause. The thing is, once the baby is here, however he got here, his mother is going to love him as if he is the most special baby that ever was, right?

How do I address my friend's slight when she implies or outright says that her baby is more precious than mine?

Precious-er Child?

A: You probably can't imagine, actually, the anguish and stress that serious infertility issues might cause.

That doesn't change the fact that your friend's comparisons are howlers, but it does slide the starting point of the problem a little closer to you.

You're both in mine-vs.-yours mode, both comparing where supporting would feel a lot better.

The answer isn't to stop her from diminishing your experience, but to stop pitching in to this competition, period.

What if, instead of taking offense, you took it as a conversation starter? "If you're saying infertility made you more mindful, then I'm sure that's true. But comparing your experience to others' — like mine — is dicey. You can't know how other moms feel."

It wouldn't diminish her, either, to admit you're taking offense: "When you say you cherish milestones more than I do, I hear that I somehow don't love or value my child as much. I hope that's not what you mean." Give her room to assure you it's not.

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