The Perfect Parent = Mission Impossible

You’ve made it your goal as a parent to provide love, shelter and protection for your child, while also encouraging admirable behaviors and values. These objectives are difficult enough on their own—so remember that holding yourself to an unrealistic standard can create crippling pressure.

According to a recent study released in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, first-time parents have a tough time adapting to parenting if they cave to societal expectations.

Whether you have one child or several, your quest to be the perfect parent is often a double-edged sword. While attempting to create the ideal environment for their children, “perfect parents” often strain themselves while trying to achieve it. Worrying about what fellow parents or family members think about your parenting skills can also send your stress levels into overdrive.

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If you’ve become overwhelmed with perfecting your parenting, take a couple of steps back and remember:

  • Adjusting to parenting takes time.
  • Every parent makes mistakes.
  • No parent is perfect.

Setting Realistic Standards

Welcoming a child into the world is a huge responsibility. Whether it’s your first or third child, a new addition to your family changes current dynamics and requires an adjustment period. While there is no parenting handbook that addresses all the challenges you may face, a couple of pointers can help.

First, be sure to take care of yourself. If you’re constantly caring for your child, chances are you’re going to experience occasional episodes of frustration and anger. Changing diapers, reading bedtime stories, giving baths and feeding your child can leave you feeling drained. If you’ve become emotionally and physically exhausted, don’t beat yourself up. Take time to regroup and relax by taking a long bubble bath, spending time with your friends or scheduling a date night with your spouse.

Also, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of family and friends. Surrounding yourself with a positive support group can help you make it through stressful parenting situations. Talk with your own parents or fellow parents for tips about how to handle bad behavior, bedtime, potty training or other challenging developmental stages. Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or a lack of parenting skills.

For more toddler parenting tips, click “Toddler” to the right.

Reviewed by Kimble L. Richardson, M.S., L.M.H.C., L.C.S.W., L.M.F.T., physician and referral liaison, St.Vincent Stress Center.

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