Playground Politics vs Corporate Politics

Politics are everywhere. Cliques, power-plays and competition start in preschool and continue throughout the lifespan. They are unavoidable, despite our best efforts. We can limit the amount that we engage in politics, but we can’t completely eliminate our participation.

I work outside the home 15 hours/week, just enough to remind me how much I dislike office politics.  It’s also enough to remind me that corporate games really aren’t any more glamorous than toddler games (in fact, they’re much less productive). The amount of time I currently spend in the office allows the positive aspects of my job to outweigh the negative (i.e. political) ones. For me, this would not be the case if I worked full-time.

When I was working full-time, overwhelmed by office politics and a longing to be home with my son, the concept of playground politics wasn’t even on my radar. I discovered it soon after I returned home (almost) full-time. It was a letdown.

There was the time when an older boy walked up to my two year old, who was just minding his own business, and pushed him down on the floor for no reason. His mother, busy socializing with her friends, barely managed to call out a request for him to “say sorry.”

There’s the mom’s group where the cliques are already established, and many of the mothers won’t even glance at someone new, let alone say hello. This is something that I now encounter with some of the preschool moms, which leads me to another unpleasant situation: comments from moms who assume that preschool is only for moms who want to “ditch their kids” so they can get a break (this is certainly not the case for me; see my previous article on Preschool Ponderings).

So, which is worse: playground politics or corporate politics?

I’m sure that different mothers would answer this question differently. Different work environments, different personalities, different neighborhoods, are all going to influence the amount and type of politics in a given situation.

For me, playground politics are easier to deal with because I have enough control and autonomy in this area of my life to keep it manageable for me. The benefits of being home with my son (almost) full-time far outweigh the negative, political aspects of this role.  So, I continue to plug along, navigating these playground politics, and doing my best to limit their negative influence on my parenting experience.

How do you manage politics on the playground, at work, or elsewhere?

Claire is a regular contributor to Catholic Mothers Online.

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  1. says

    It’s additionally complicated b/c some of what feels like snobbery & clicquishness is a result of people’s discomfort around unfamiliar people and situations. We all gravitate toward people we know already. And then there’s the “how much should I scold my child in public?” dynamic–when they misbehave, we’re doomed to look like we’re a) cruel or b) permissive based on how we handle it, but we’re never going to make everyone happy with our handling of things. We always have to guess whch camp the other moms around us beong to.

    Politics, indeed!

    • Claire says

      Great points Kathleen! I am definitely somewhat shy around unfamiliar people, and particularly if I’m engrossed in a conversation with someone who is familiar, I can become oblivious to others. I can definitely see how this could be perceived as being snobby or aloof. I will say, though, that if my child is aggressive toward another child, I am very proactive about addressing his behavior. Not necessarily scolding, but giving him firm reminders about what is appropriate, and asking him to do something to make the other child feel better (if he has been rough, etc). That to me is so much more important than other mothers’ opinions of me.