There was a comment left on the "perfect families" post which said,
Have you found ways to keep from joining in the competition when you speak about your kids, and shut down competitive questions/remarks from others?
There is definitely a way to keep from joining in these kinds of competitions. But, the way is not easy because it goes against human nature to seek evidence of personal success by comparing. I have realized the act of comparing or one-upping usually happens when I stop listening to and caring about the parent talking to me and caring about my own family's accomplishments instead.
To combat this problem, I have tried to develop better listening skills. I also remind myself that most people enjoy my company much more if the conversation is mostly about them, instead of me. This is a basic relationship building strategy. If you want to strengthen ties with anyone, give them the gift of a conversation mostly about them, their interests, and their successes. Show genuine interest.
The other thing I have to remember is that my child's success usually won't help strengthen my friend, or our relationship in any way. So, the new rule is, when my friend wants to do some bragging to me about their child, I choose to feel joy for them at that time. This strengthens our relationship and shows my acceptance of them. I have also found that there usually comes a time when my friend, who now knows she is completely accepted by me, feels it is safe to inquire of my children's successes. At this point I try not to sound superior, to keep a feeling of friendship and acceptance.
If anyone can always do this completely, they are my hero. I will admit, I am not perfect at this, but I am trying everyday to improve my communication, and relationship building skills. Which means I have to care less about myself, and more for the success of others.
As far as shutting down comments which are comparative goes, the very best thing to do, is say, "Oh." and nothing else. This works for shutting just about any annoying conversation down. I have used this often.
If someone is tearing down another family or person around me and I want that to stop, I usually comment with something like, "Linda, is always so kind, I am sure she probably doesn't feel that way." and then I follow up with praise about Linda to show the person speaking that I am not the kind of person who likes to engage in gossip. This doesn't always work, but usually it does. Hopefully, this will show whoever you are speaking to that their name is safe with you, and so is everyone else's, so it only makes them look bad to gossip, and compare in your presence.