When Did Parenting Become a Competitive Sport?

It shouldn’t be, but some are making it so

When Did Parenting Become a Competitive Sport?

Do you compare your children with those of your neighbors and friends?

It’s human nature to make a few innocent comparisons, so no wonder three out of four parents admit to doing so. Specifically, 84% compare their children’s behavior to that of their peers, 66% compare material possessions, 51% compare education and 18% compare appearance.

More disturbingly, though, is that four parents out of five say they feel the need to “outdo” other parents — and they spend an average of $532 per month trying to stay ahead of others.

The top five ways they try:

  • 94% buy expensive clothes for their children
  • 69% host lavish parties for kids
  • 65% buy their children the latest toys and gadgets
  • 47% pay for tutoring
  • 40% send their daughters to get beauty treatments

And worst of all, 34% admitted that they rack up credit card debt to pay for all this.

Maybe that’s not the worst part. The poll found that 29% of parents admitted to encouraging their children to befriend only those of the same economic standing or higher.

Wanting to give children the best start possible is understandable, but good parenting isn’t a competitive sport. Parental jealousy and insecurity could teach children all the wrong lessons. 

Originally published in Inside Personal Finance March 2016.

More Life Events Advice