Hypercompetitive parents(Photo: Tetra Images\Getty Images)

Nothing ruins a school function, athletic event, or even a nice day at the park like having to sit next to a hypercompetitive parent who can't help but brag about her child's accomplishments. We're not talking about basic parental pride, or achievements modestly shared throughout the course of a comfortable conversation. No, what I mean are those excruciatingly annoying conversations in which a parent tries to one-up you with every aspect of her kid's life. If you happen to mention your child was potty trained at 2 years old, she'll reply that her child was potty trained before she could even walk -- leading you to imagine a child hopping up onto the toilet like a potty trained cat. If your child can read at a 4th grade level, her child already has a book deal. This of course is a bit of an exaggeration, but it highlights the reality of having to deal with a parent who believes she gave birth to bragging rights in addition to a baby. Let's take a look at the Frankensteinian phenomenon of the hypercompetitive parent, and how to defend ourselves from the onslaught of their horn tooting.

The birth of a hypercompetitive parent

When dealing with crazily competitive parents, it helps to first understand why these folks feel compelled to compare kids. Not surprisingly, a parent's insecurity is at the root cause of the behavior. But not all insecure parents are insecure for the same reasons. Beverly Hills psychiatrist and bestselling author, Dr. Carole Lieberman explains that, "One type of competitive parent is the parent who is insecure about their own achievements, and they don't have anything to brag about in regard to themselves. They want their kudos and attention through the kid's achievements. The other type is parents who are high achievers, and who would have something to brag about with regard to themselves, but want their kids to live up to their success. But even with them, there is an insecurity that drove them to be Type A and high achievers" While insecurity is no excuse for the abrasive behavior, it can make hearing, "My kid is great" more tolerable if you know what's actually being said is, "I'm crushingly insecure."