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May 30, 2024

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Trying to Be a ‘Perfect’ Parent is Unhealthy Says Survey

Striving for perfection in your parenting is unattainable. Instead, aim for a happier you and happier kids.

Today’s moms feel pressure to be great at mothering, but striving to be “perfect” isn’t healthy for their families, a new study says. The quest for perfection led researchers from Ohio state University to create a burnout scale three years ago to address parental burnout and have since updated their findings in the new study.
The The Power of Positive Parenting: Evidence to Help Parents and Their Children Thrive highlights the importance of being aware of your parental stress levels. This matters so that you can counter them with workable, positive strategies.
“Maybe you’re prioritizing making sure your house spotless all the time. But then you don’t feel like you have time to go for a walk every night with your children. Maybe you need to reorganize or find a way to make both of those things work,” said lead researcher Kate Gawlik, an associate clinical professor in a news release.
More than half of the 1,285 parents who took part in the three-year-old survey said they were burned out. That same sensation is relevant today amid the ongoing comparison traps parents experience via social media and in daily life as they aim to keep up. The new study helps to provide an antidote to burnout.

Trying to Be a ‘Perfect’ Parent is Unhealthy Says Survey

The burnout parents can experience happens when a mother or father sets unrealistic expectations for themselves. This happens through the “culture of achievement” that’s been spurred in part by social media.
You can look at people on Instagram or you can even just see people at a gathering you are at, and think, How do they do that? How do they seem to always have it all together when I don’t? The high expectations for what your kids should be doing or what you should be doing are harmful. When you compare yourself to other parents, there’s a lot of judgment that goes on whether it’s intended or not.
Burnt out parents are most likely to lash out at their children. If the kids suffer emotionally as a result, that makes the parents even more stressed, creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to get out of. It’s important to identify what’s going on so you can do something better about your self-care for everyone’s sake.
Positive strategies to help you counter stress and burnout are important to your well-being.

Strategies Include:

— Connection and active listening
— Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones
— Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and family
— Resetting priorities

These sort of strategies can help counter what researchers call a “public health epidemic” of parental burnout. While many parents do an outstanding job of caring for their families, they often under value their own care. However, when kids see their parents taking time for their own wellness, chances are they’re going to grow up with that value as well.
The goal? Aim for happier kids … and not the impossible to achieve perfection.

 

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About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.