Seeking to be the 'perfect parent' not always good for new moms and dads
Parents of newborns show poorer adjustment to their new role if they believe society expects them to be "perfect" moms and dads, a new study shows.
Moms showed less confidence in their parenting abilities and dads felt more stress when they were more worried about what other people thought about their parenting skills.
However, self-imposed pressure to be perfect was somewhat better for parents, especially for fathers, according to the results.
The findings are some of the first to show how the quest for perfectionism affects first-time parents, said Meghan Lee, lead author of the study and a graduate student in human development and family science at Ohio State University.
"Trying to be the perfect parent is a mixed bag," Lee said.
"If you think you have to be perfect because of outside pressure, it really hurts adjustment. If you put these demands on yourself, it may have some benefits early on, but it is not universally good."
Lee conducted the study with Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, associate professor, and Claire Kamp Dush, assistant professor, both in human development and family science at Ohio State.
Their results appear online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences and will be published in a future print edition.
This study is part of a larger, long-term "New Parents Project" that is studying how dual-earner couples adjust to becoming parents for the first time.
For this study, the researchers examined 182 couples who became parents between 2008 and 2010.
In the final trimester of the woman's pregnancy, both spouses completed a questionnaire measuring their levels of both societal-oriented and self-imposed parenting perfectionism.
Societal-oriented perfectionism is "being concerned about what other people think about your parenting," Schoppe-Sullivan said. It was measured by asking people how much they agreed with statements like "Most people always expect me to always be an excellent parent."
Self-oriented perfectionism was measured with statements like "I must always be a successful parent."
Three months after the birth of their child, the same couples answered questions about their adjustment to their new roles.
The results showed that the parents' perfectionistic tendencies were associated with how well they adjusted.
Mothers who had higher levels of societal-oriented perfectionism also tended to have lower levels of self-efficacy about their parenting.
"That means they didn't have as much confidence in their ability to perform their tasks as mothers," Schoppe-Sullivan said.
For fathers, societal-oriented perfectionism was associated with higher levels of parenting stress.
Self-oriented perfectionism was linked to higher levels of parenting satisfaction for mothers, but it had no effect on their self-efficacy or stress.
For fathers, self-oriented perfectionism was related to better adjustment in all three areas: higher satisfaction, lower stress, and higher parental self-efficacy.
The researchers measured and controlled for two personality factors conscientiousness and neuroticism that are also linked to parental adjustment. For that reason, the researchers are more confident that parental adjustment is indeed related to perfectionism and not to other factors.
The data from the study can't tell us why fathers were more likely than mothers to benefit from the self-imposed perfectionism, according to the researchers.
One reason may be that these fathers were highly involved in parenting, and having these high standards motivated them.
But Schoppe-Sullivan said the reason may also have to do with the fact that fathers still don't carry the same burden for childcare that mothers do in our society.
"Some fathers may have these very high standards for themselves, but it may not be as hard for them to meet those standards as it is for mothers," she said.
"Fathers generally aren't expected to have as much responsibility for taking care of their children."
Lee noted that this study examined parents just three months after their child was born, so it is possible that the role of perfectionism may change over time. Even though self-oriented perfectionism had some positive effects at this early point in parenthood, things may change.
"What's going to happen to adjustment when these moms and dads start having problems and failures, as all new parents inevitably do? It may be that self-oriented perfectionism will no longer be a good thing in the face of these failures. We just don't know yet," Lee said.
Provided by The Ohio State University
- Sharing child caregiving may increase parental conflict, study finds Jan 26, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Biological fathers not necessarily the best, social dads parent well too Jul 31, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Supportive co-parenting may reduce some child behavior problems Mar 03, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Mothers, but not fathers, follow their own moms' parenting practices Aug 09, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Strong marriage helps couples deal with tempermental baby Apr 17, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
(HealthDay)—We've all seen them: the surfers who race to the beach when a hurricane hits, the guy who decides to ride out the storm in his overmatched boat, the tornado chasers who fearlessly steer their ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
Psychology & Psychiatry 13 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Ernie Pyle – an iconic war correspondent in World War II – reportedly said "There are no atheists in foxholes." A new joint study between two brothers at Cornell and Virginia Wesleyan found that only ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 15 hours ago | 2.5 / 5 (4) | 1
(Medical Xpress)—Research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education found that post-traumatic stress disorder decreased in veterans who participated ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 16 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Patients with diabetes who are depressed are much more likely to develop episodes of dangerously low blood sugars, or hypoglycemia, than are those who are not depressed, a new study has ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 17 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
16 hours ago | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Two mutations central to the development of infantile myofibromatosis (IM)—a disorder characterized by multiple tumors involving the skin, bone, and soft tissue—may provide new therapeutic targets, according to researchers ...
10 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
How can healthy people who hear voices help schizophrenics? Finding the answer for this is at the centre of research conducted at the University of Bergen.
16 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 2
(Medical Xpress)—The way Alzheimer's disease is portrayed by advocacy groups and the media is having undue influence on the euthanasia debate, according to a Deakin University nursing ethics professor.
17 hours ago | not rated yet | 2
Talking on a hands-free device while behind the wheel can lead to a sharp increase in errors that could imperil other drivers on the road, according to new research from the University of Alberta.
10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0