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Perfecting Motherhood: Why Perfectionism is Bad for You and Your Kids

Avoiding Perfectionism in MotherhoodWe all want to be the “perfect” mother, raising children who are healthy, happy and accomplished. But some parents take it to the extreme. They don’t allow their children to eat anything but the “best” foods and dress. They want their children to look a certain way and to put out a certain image. The problem with all this “striving to be perfect” is that it’s detrimental to both the parent and the children.

According to Dr. Jon Allen in a Perspective Magazine article, “One of the most pernicious forms of self-generated stress stems from perfectionism.” Another article states that “adolescents may need to make mistakes in order to learn while they are still in a structured and loving environment.”

Dangers of Striving for Perfectionism

The problem with trying to be a perfectionist is that mothers can become overwhelmed. They’re trying to be perfect in every aspect of their life from mother to wife to career. They may feel like they’re being pulled in 80 million directions, and emotional needs can be put on the backburner.

It’s also detrimental to a child. For example, if a mother wants her child to have the “best” grades, a child can have self-esteem issues if their grades below fall below that perfect “A”.

How to Let Perfectionism Go

Perfectionism is hard to let go of, but you can. You just need to understand a few things.

  • Don’t rebel from imperfection; accept it: When you try to be perfect, things become “not fun”. You stress yourself and your children out. Understand that imperfections are everywhere and embrace them.
  • Don’t have high expectations for everything: Yes, you want your children to do well, but understand that everything is a learning experience. And then give yourself some slack.
  • Share the responsibility: You don’t have to do it all – in fact, you shouldn’t. Ask spouses, friends and family for help. And then let them actually help.
  • Love people for who they are – flaws and all: Connect with people on a personal level, and reduce the focus on yourself. Other people aren’t perfect either, and be authentic.
  • Pick what’s important: Everything doesn’t have the same importance as other items. Choose what’s really important and focus on it.
  • Get help if necessary: If you are having trouble changing your attitude, then seek help and talk about it to someone.
  • Remember, it’s never too late to change: Even if you’ve been a perfectionist your whole life, you still have time to lighten up and have some fun.
Rachel Levi, LMFT, CEDS, F- IAEDPFounder/Clinical Director
Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment
  1. Avatar
    Johna158 Reply

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thank you for putting up. No man is wise enough by himself. by Titus Maccius Plautus.

    • Avatar
      Kavisma Reply

      Have you ever noticed how often that “cultural/training/brainwashing” aemngrut is trotted out in reference to women, but hardly ever when it comes to men? […] I say we either give this line of aemngrut a rest or apply it equally to men and women. The reason that explanation isn’t applied to men is because the same disadvantages (relative lack of pay, reduced access to business and academic positions) don’t apply to men. An explanation applying to men would have to show why men seem to be more successful, not less.

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