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Is Your Perfectionism Contributing to Your (Mom) Depression?

depressed mom holding baby

There exists the erroneous belief that unless we are perfect moms we’re failing our children.

Today’s society highly values perfection.

The internet, TV, magazines, and social media flaunt perfection to such a degree that we’re lead to believe unless everything is perfect we cannot be successful or happy.

Our culture’s approach to parenting has not escaped this trend either.

There exists the erroneous belief that unless we are perfect moms we’re failing our children.

This myth is spurred by the slew of information available about what raising children should look like. Courtesy of the internet, it has never been easier to find examples of mothers who have that perfectly decorated home and those perfectly dressed children, who are always ahead of their peers, developmentally and intellectually. But even parenting advice guides and magazines often inspire expectations that most mothers cannot live up to – especially first-time moms.

Inundated by all these painful reminders that you’re falling short and will never be that perfect super mom, it’s no wonder that critical thoughts like “you’re not a good mom” creep into your mind. This pressure creates stress, and stress is a risk factor for depression.

How Perfectionism Contributes to Your Mom Depression

For a perfectionist, there is no middle ground – either they get it right and achieve perfection or they’re an utter failure… in their own minds.

In what areas are moms especially vulnerable to perfectionism?

Unrealistic Expectations

Despite great efforts, you may think that somebody is always disappointed in you. Rather than giving yourself credit for what you do, your mind is constantly occupied with worries about what you could be doing better. You obsess about what your children should eat, wear, and achieve. You even worry about how your obviously unhealthy behavior could be affecting them.

Comparisons with Others

As mentioned before, due to the internet, social media, and the like, it’s so easy to compare yourself to those “super moms” you seem to see everywhere. They’re perfectly organized, have activities planned for their children all the time, and even home school. You end up feeling ashamed and defective in comparison. Sometimes you feel so overwhelmed by these comparisons that you withdraw from your own children.

Excessive Requirements of Happiness

In particular, as a new mom, you may get the idea that unless you’re not happy all the time, you’re not a good mom. You fall into the trap of trying to achieve happiness through perfection. But because you can’t attain perfection, you lack satisfaction and… happiness.

Striving to live up to unrealistic expectations, to the shining examples of others in comparison, and to being happy all the time is not healthy. You only end up becoming overwhelmed and stressing out. As a result, you begin feeling inferior, worthless, unhappy, and depressed. – The exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve!

And that starts a vicious cycle. The more you expect of yourself – and it doesn’t work out – the more overwhelmed and depressed you feel.

A More Balanced View

Parenthood isn’t the same as a job. At work, there are usually clearly defined objectives and paths to success. Yet, there are no defined rules to go by with parenting.

Believe it or not, becoming a parent can actually be an opportunity to move beyond perfectionism. If you want to successfully adapt to the realities of being a mom, you have to learn to lower your standards. When you stop trying to control yourself and your children, it gives you both the chance to simply be yourselves. It opens the possibility for you to teach your children that to err is human.

Yes, it may seem counter-intuitive, but in order to be a good mom and keep depressed mom blues at bay, you have to accept that you cannot be perfect!

Ironically, once you give up on the idea of doing everything perfectly, you suddenly feel happier. And your children will be happier, too!

Get Support

If you are feeling overwhelmed trying to do it all you may benefit from our motherhood therapy group in Houston. Individual counseling can also help you reduce stress, anxiety, depression and expectations of yourself in order to live in a more fulfilling and balanced manner. Contact us in Houston at 832-559-2622 for more information or schedule an appointment online.

 

Alexandra Marshall, M.Ed., LPCi
Alexandra specializes in working with overwhelmed moms, anxiety, depression and compulsive eating and teaching DBT skills in Houston, TX. Alexandra's focus is on helping you develop self-confidence, cope with feelings of anxiety, loneliness and isolation and manage major life transitions such as changing careers or becoming a parent.

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