I hate put-downs. Especially when they come from a 9-year-old. And I imagine they hurt even more if the child is a product of one’s own DNA.
Drake is a big competitor. And I’m not just talking about sports. He appears to seek out opportunities to one-up Team Dad in matters such as vacations, experiences and household purchases. Case in point:
We took the boys camping this past weekend. Saturday night, as we sat around the fire, Drake told us that they’ve made a lot of fires outside at their mother’s house, on the recently expanded deck. He said they have one of those tables with a fire pit in the center.
“It’s about an inch bigger than the one that [Boyfriend’s parents] have,” he told us.
(Ugh, seriously?!?! An inch?!?! Why is it so freaking important for him to constantly position Team Mom above us? WHY???)
Although these instances fill me with frustration and make me want to scream, that’s not an appropriate response. We don’t scream. We offer no reactions to convey defeat or admiration. Often, we question Drake’s claims (“How big do you think your grandparents’ table is?”) and there comes a point in the discussion when his intentions (and embellishments) are apparent.
I realize BirthMom performs a role in this game. But there’s also a bigger issue at play. (Please note: I’m not a child psychologist and the following is merely conjecture based on observation and independent research) The more substantial matter is Drake’s internal anxiety. As a child of a high-conflict divorce, he constantly seeks safety and stability. He needs to know that he’s receiving the best possible care in the place where he spends most of his time. In order to assure himself, he looks for ways to award points to his home team.
The behavior is outwardly designed to provoke a competitive retort (“no, we don’t suck… they do!”) and no doubt, that’s the anticipated response. But such a reaction would ultimately be devastating as it would further shake the foundation and prohibit the child from feeling secure with either parent.
How we can stop this vicious cycle?