p.s. We all know competitive parents, this guide is intended to give you something to laugh about next time you come up against their impossible style of parenting without going mad.
To compete with other parents, your child’s name must be unpronounceable. Not because it has roots in another culture or because it is an old family name, but because you have entirely made it up and it bears no resemblance to any other name. Ideally, you want to have at least 8 syllables in the name, a couple of middle names and a triple barrelled surname. If you have a ‘normal’ surname, consider changing that too (JJonz is just so much more ‘now’ than Jones, don’t you think?). To make sure everyone knows that you haven’t gone for a boring name, screech the full name at high volume to call your child, and every time you say it, remember to follow it up with the spelling in case anyone has the audacity to get it wrong. Advanced level tip – try including a symbol or some punctuation in the name to make it even more ‘out there’; nothing says superiority like a stray apostrophe.
When it comes to having a birthday party, forget the local soft play centre. You need to think big. For younger children, a big venue is required to fit in all the extras that will get people talking; circus clowns are not enough; you need the animals. Balloons are not enough; you need a hot air balloon for aerial views of the festivities. Snapping the action on your phone won’t do; hire a photographer and get the job done right. Obscure fancy dress demands are a great way to put pressure on guests, as are very specific present lists – the more it costs for guests to attend the better. For older children, book the use of an exclusive spa or block book the nearest zoo. When it comes to cake, play it safe and opt for an artisanal, organic, gluten-free, hand-made masterpiece with as many tiers as possible. The rule here is simply ‘go bigger’; whatever you have, make it bigger, whatever other parties have done, do it bigger. If in doubt whether something is over the top, just make it bigger. Advanced level tip – why not celebrate your child’s half-year birthday as well?
How you dress your child is crucial for the competitive parent. It isn’t enough to simply make sure they have clean clothes on that fit. Nor is it enough to let them wear what they want to wear. Train them young that labels are best. Obviously, the more expensive and fashionable the clothing, the better. This must start at birth (if you managed with supermarket brand basics and are a newcomer to the competitive parenting arena then you will have to make up for time lost by spending extra cash on clothing now, and doing twice as many costume changes). A new-born can be changed numerous times a day, and outfits should be only worn once. Hand-downs are a no-no. Accessories are essential; search hard enough and you will find hats, bags, jewellery, parasols… don’t let anyone tell you that babies don’t need high heeled shoes or that your little prince doesn’t actually need a crown. Collect everything the growing child needs to stand out and stay ahead of the crowd, and remember; comfort is secondary to style. Advanced level tip; dress your children to match you at all times.
The time will come when your child wants a puppy or a kitten, a bunny or a budgie. Instead of seeing this as an important lesson in being responsible, see it as a chance to up your game in the competitive parent stakes with the most impossibly rare pet you can find. This pet can be whatever type of animal you want but you score extra points if it is; from a country no-one has heard of, a very difficult and rare breed or on the endangered species list. Give it a name as obscure as the name you have chosen for your child and then ensure that everyone knows about it, its delicate health and its unique dietary requirements and health needs. Even if it loves cheap tinned food, occasionally import some specialist gourmet titbits to keep the mystery alive. Advanced level tip; have the pet groomed every few days, even if it is a reptile, ensure it always smells better than the perfume of the nearest competing parent.
All holidays must be as complex as possible. Always go abroad (more obscure countries are preferable) but never fly direct, always include numerous stop-offs and as many methods of transport as possible. Good hotels are fine, private villas are better, staffed private villas are better still. The great thing about holidays is that no-one can prove where you have been so as long as you are sure you won’t bump into the Smiths from round the corner or your child’s teacher, you can pretty much tell people whatever you like about your latest adventure. Whatever you do, refer to the holiday as often as possible, including snippets of the language, anecdotes about the locals and vague references to expensive purchases. Advanced level tip – Sigh dramatically and refer wistfully to the smell of orange groves and the fact that you can only go on holiday three times a year due to the school’s inflexible holiday policies.
Your child must have as many extra-curricular clubs to go to as possible. This should include the most rare activities you can think of, but definitely should be more impressive than just football club or Brownies. Combine activities to create unique options to be sure than no other child will ever be able to better them; yoga-fencing, freeswim-gymnastic-bowls… that type of thing. Advanced Level tip; summer camps where you child learns to yodel or model the human form in porcelain are a bonus.
Whatever you do, go bigger and better and then lie about it to make it seem even more impressive. At all times, look amazing, have amazing things to do and say and remind others that they are ever so slightly less amazing. You may not have any friends, you may not be able to ask for help or get involved in community life for fear of not being perfect, but you will be winning!