I typically believe that most parents brag about their kids because they're proud. Their hearts are in the right place and they just can't help expressing how excited they are about the abilities and futures of their always-growing children. I'm the first to admit that you can often find me gushing about my daughter and some seemingly mundane thing she did, but I also know that there are times you probably shouldn't brag about your kid.
Parenthood is complicated and not every single trajectory of every single child's development is the same. So I've learned that you actually have to be a little careful when it comes to bragging about your kid. The last thing most of us want to do is make any other parent feel badly about their kid's progress, and sometimes that means keeping your mouth shut even when you'd love to be shouting from the rooftop that your 2-year-old toddler is now, officially and finally, potty trained.
Of course, most parents also realize that a little bragging is expected and almost uncontrollable when you're a proud parent, and most of us give other parents the benefit of the doubt. Still, and regardless of your intentions, there are just a few things to keep in mind when you're about to blurt out that your daughter is speaking full sentences at 2, and starting to read at 3, and will probably cure cancer by the time she's 5.
When You Don't Know Your Audience
One of the times you shouldn't brag about your kid too overtly is when you don't know your audience. When you don't know whether the people you're speaking to have a kid who's been struggling to speak or read or reach a particular milestone, try not to lay it on too thick.
As an adoptive mom, I've learned quickly that you can't know someone else's story with their child, and you shouldn't make assumptions when in the absence of actual knowledge, so it's best to keep the bragging to a minimum until you know a little more about your audience and their children.
When You Know Your Audience
Likewise, if I know a mom friend is constantly worried about her kid's speech and language development, I'm not going to go on and on about how much my daughter is talking and how she just won't shut up. Likewise, I hope my mom friends or family wouldn't brag about something that might make me feel even more uncomfortable or worried about my kid's development.
When You've Been Bragging About Your Kid All Day
I mean, there's a limit, right? I think even my daughter's grandmothers get a little tired of me telling them everything amazing she's done in a single day. Find a limit, my friends, and then respect it.
When Your Friends' Kids Aren't As Advanced
Kids develop at different rates, and strengths your child has might be things that develop later for other kids (and vice versa, for the record). There are kids in my daughter's day care class who aren't walking or talking at all yet, but they can draw with crayons when all my daughter wants to do is peel the paper off for hours on end. Kids are different, so be mindful of the differences between your kid and the kids of those you're bragging to.
When Your Friends Don't Have Kids
When you don't have kids, how much bragging about someone else's kids can you really take? It's also important to remember that some people who don't have kids yet might really want kids, so hearing you go on and on about your child will probably make them feel, well, not the best.
Honestly, as someone who has struggled with infertility for more than five years, I try to get to know what my friends and family find difficult to talk about before I start highlighting my child's accomplishments.
When You're Really Bragging About Your Parenting
I read once that it's OK to brag about something your kid does that you have nothing to do with, but it's not OK to brag about something that's a result of your parenting. While I'm not sure I agree 100 percent, I do see that it's a little tack to faux-brag about your kid when you really want to brag about yourself. Like, just say you did an awesome job keeping a human being alive, mom! It's not like you don't deserve it.
When It's Actually Really Boring
I think parents have a really weak gauge for knowing when something about their kid is objectively boring, so this is tough to navigate. But feel free to tell your friends to let you know when you're making them feel like they're watching paint dry.
When It Has To Do With Potty Training
My daughter hasn't hit the potty training age yet, so maybe I'll end up changing my mind on this specific "brag-worthy" topic. Until then, however, I stand behind my decision. Honestly, I find bragging about potty training to be the most annoying sh*t ever (pun intended). Perhaps that's because I find talking at all about potty training makes me want to bury my head in the sand and not take it out until 2020, but seriously. Think twice before you start bragging about your kid's bowel movements.