Did your parents often criticize you? Did they struggle to provide you with the needed encouragement? Were you often scolded for small slip-ups? Did they seem unable to pay attention to your emotional needs, leaving you to fend for yourself? If these questions ring a bell, you’re not alone. Many perfectionists trace their tendencies back to childhood experiences like these, highlighting the role of parenting.
Welcome to the complex world of parenting and its tangled relationship with perfectionism. But how exactly does parenting contribute to perfectionism? What styles and behaviors potentially instill those unrelenting high standards and fears of failure? If tendencies like procrastination, self-judgment, or burnout ring true, join me in examining how our upbringing planted the seeds. It’s about growth, not blame.
In this blog, we’re about to explore the impact parenting styles can have on the development of perfectionist traits in children. Here we will talk about four types of parenting that may shape your tendencies towards perfectionism as a way to cope. While reading, think about how much each style matches the way your own parents raised you.
Demanding parents are more interested in your achievements than your efforts. Their love appears conditional, tied to your success. Every tiny mistake is marked, and failures feel like an embarrassment as if they are constantly concerned about others’ opinions. Success, for them, equates to perfection, and they don’t shy away from using punishments and emotional pressure for what they want. These parents might not even realize the immense pressure they place upon you, as their focus becomes singular: your performance.
Now imagine, your mom or dad wants you to excel in everything – school, sports, even your daily chores. They genuinely believe that pushing you to your limits will help you become the best version of yourself. But here’s the catch – this constant pursuit can feel like a burden you are carrying, with the expectation that you have to be flawless all the time. So, in a way, demanding parents, with the best of intentions, can unknowingly lead their children toward perfectionism.
You know those parents who always want everything to be just right? They want perfect jobs, perfect homes, and basically, everything perfect. They work super hard to make things perfect. Well, guess what? Sometimes, they start wanting their kids to be just as perfect as they are without even realizing. It’s not like they’re trying to be strict intentionally but without them even knowing, they kind of tell their kids, “Only perfect is good enough.” That means if you’re not perfect, it feels like you have failed.
Now imagine you’re always trying to do everything perfectly because you think that’s what your parent(s) want. You get scared that if you don’t do something perfectly, your parents might feel disappointed. This fear can get really big and make you feel like you have to be perfect all the time. It’s like walking on eggshells, afraid of making any mistake because you’re worried about what might happen if things aren’t perfect.
So, in a way, these parents who want perfection can pass on that fear of not being perfect to their kids. And that’s why kids might feel like they have to do everything flawlessly to meet those super high expectations.
Imagine having parents who are always wrapped up in their work, personal stuff, or their screens. They’re so busy that they sometimes forget to really connect with their kids. They might not even notice when their kids want to talk, share or spend quality time together. But when parents are always busy with other things, kids might start feeling like they’re not important or their parents don’t really care about them.
So, to cope with this, some kids start trying to be perfect. They think that if they do everything just right, maybe then their parents will finally pay attention to them. It’s like they believe that being perfect is the only way to get noticed and feel important.
This can lead to perfectionism because these kids start feeling like they have to be perfect in everything they do to get their parent’s attention. They might think that any mistake or not being best at something would imply they’re not worth their parents’ time. So, in a way, distracted parents can unintentionally push their children towards perfectionism as a way to be seen and valued.
What if your parents are going through really tough times? They might be dealing with financial concerns, work stress, or other worries. When they’re going through all of this, it can be hard for them to pay enough attention to how you’re feeling and what you need.
So, when your parents are feeling super overwhelmed by their own problems, they might not have much energy left to really connect with you on a deeper level. It’s not that they don’t care about you; it’s just that they’re so caught up in their own stress that they don’t have much emotional energy left to listen and understand your emotional needs.
Now, here’s where it gets tricky. As a kid, you really want your parents to notice how you’re feeling and to be there for you. But when they’re overwhelmed, it can sometimes feel like they’re not paying attention to you. It can make you feel like your feelings don’t matter as much.
So, to deal with this, some kids start aiming for perfection to make their parents’ lives easier. They think that if they’re perfect and don’t cause any trouble; maybe their parents won’t have to worry about them, and will eventually feel less stressed.
So, in a way, overwhelmed parents can accidentally push their kids towards perfectionism.
In this blog, we’ve discussed various parenting styles that contribute to the development of perfectionist traits. But it’s essential to recognize that parents are not the sole influencers. It’s a complex interplay of our perception along with parenting that shapes these tendencies. We may pick up on attitudes that mistakes are unacceptable or that one must be flawless to fit in. Understanding these internal influences is key to unraveling the complex web of perfectionism in our lives.