mother upset baby cryingAs if it weren't enough to simply be doing our best to raise kids, most moms also often feel another looming pressure: to be "the perfect parent." And a new study from the University of Michigan found that moms who feel that pressure the most are at the greatest risk for depression.

The study had about 113 women complete a questionnaire about depression and parental competence. During pregnancy and postpartum, the statements with which they could agree or disagree included: "I should do everything for my baby myself," "Other mothers have fewer parenting difficulties than I do," and "I feel guilty when I put my needs before the needs of my baby."

The study authors concluded that a woman who more rigidly believes that "good" mothers must be able to calm their crying babies may be more susceptible to feeling depressed, because she's worried about what other people think of her parenting skills. Meanwhile, a woman who is more at peace with the idea that being a mom isn't always a positive experience may make her more likely to ask for help.

Although more research needs to be done in this field (and we welcome that!), it's a wonderful step to shedding light on the potential negative downstream effects of so many outrageous expectations moms feel they need to live up to. No mom is perfect. No experience of motherhood is harmony, fairycakes, and perfectly behaved kiddos 24/7/365. We all face challenges every day, and we screw up more than we'd all like to admit.

But it's okay. We should give ourselves a break! No mom should feel so much pressure to be an excellent parent that it comes at the cost of her mental health. Besides, kids most likely benefit much more from us being happy than perfect.

In what ways do you feel pressured to be a perfect mom?

 

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