Parenting is a highly demanding job that can seem overwhelming at times, considering the level of responsibility involved. The pressure on today’s parents to do and be everything for their kids is also a real problem. From judgmental parenting books to the shaming that goes on in online forums and social media, it’s no wonder that parents often feel the need to be perfect.

However, trying to be a perfectionist can have a negative side. Not only does it stress you out, but it can also be harmful to your child’s wellbeing. Let’s explore why: 

The negative effects of perfect parenting on children

It’s important to understand that there is a big difference between having high standards as a parent and being a perfectionist. As a parent, having high standards can be a good trait when realistic expectations are set and children are positively motivated.

Perfectionist parenting, on the other hand, can set children up to believe that if they don’t achieve the highest standards, they are failures. Putting too much pressure on children to be perfect always sends the wrong message. For example, children may cheat on their tests at school to get better grades because they think their parents value achievement more than being honest. 

Children must be able to make mistakes without the fear of major consequences, in order to learn.

Unfortunately, perfectionism can easily rub off on children too. They may think they have to be perfect all the time and this can put them at a higher risk of developing serious mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. 

Let go of perfectionism and realise that you just need to be good enough 

Usually, letting go of perfectionism isn’t easy. But being gentler on yourself and your family is important for your psychological wellbeing. It could also greatly improve your relationship with your child. Here are a few tips to help you let go of trying to be the perfect parent: 

  • Focus on what you are doing right 

Cooked a great meal for your family today or got everyone dressed on time? Those are all wins that need to be celebrated. Realise that parenting is hard and you’re doing many things right, every day! 

  • Realise it’s okay to make mistakes 

Everyone makes mistakes. It is a normal part of parenting. It is important that you don’t zoom in on all the mistakes you make. Simply learn from them and move on. 

  • Stay off online forums and social media 

The online world can be a treasure chest of incredible resources for parents. But it can also be a toxic place, especially if you’re not in a good space mentally. If you struggle with letting go of perfectionism, it’s best to take a break from online forums and social media groups. 

  • Know that you can’t please everyone

From friends to in-laws, everyone will try to have a say about how you should parent your children. However, it’s so important to stick to what feels right for you. Acknowledge others’ opinions but do what works for you and your family. 

  • Pay attention to your family’s efforts and not the outcomes 

Besides praising your children or partner when they achieve something, also notice their efforts. This goes a long way in teaching everyone that taking part and putting in the work is just as important as seeing great results. 

Know your limitations

Today, we are bombarded with so many messages about being the best parents. But trying to be perfect is futile. It only puts you in a race that makes you feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

You don’t need to be a perfect parent. You should rather strive to be a good enough parent for your family. That means you understand your limitations and accept them, and know that you are doing your best.