June 16, 2021

Admitting Things Aren't Perfect

It's hard to admit things aren't perfect.It's especially hard for moms. "Socially mediated" perfectionism happens when a culture has unrealistic demands for a person or group, then punishes them when they falls short.Sound familiar?Here’s what to do.

It's hard to admit things aren't perfect. It's especially hard for moms. Psychologists Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett described three types of perfectionism in the 1990s: self-directed (I must be a size 2), others-directed (do that piano exercise again until you get it right), and "socially mediated" perfectionism, which comes from society making unrealistic demands of a person or a group and punishes that person when she falls short. Sound familiar?

Turns out the amount of socially mediated perfectionism a parent feels is directly related to her level of "parental burnout," defined as exhaustion in one’s role as a parent, feelings of being fed up as a parent, and even emotional distancing from one’s children. Not the place any of us want to get to. So why is it so hard to admit things aren't perfect? And how can we start?

Here are links to some of the research on the topic that we discuss in this episode:

Fatemeh Ghanbari Jahromia et al: The relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and depression: The mediating role of maladaptive cognitive schemas 

Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett: Perfectionism in the Self and Social Contexts

Matilda Sorkkila and Kaisa Aunola: Risk Factors for Parental Burnout among Finnish Parents: The Role of Socially Prescribed Perfectionism

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