The Perfect Parent Trap

When perfectionists become parents, their mindsets don't change; they just shift their unreasonable expectations onto their children. Now their kids must be perfect too. In fact, a number of studies have found that perfectionists are so busy worrying about the drive for excellence that they aren't sensitive are responsive to the children's real needs.

Perfectionist parenting is anxious parenting. So that their children never make mistakes, these parents are overprotective, controlling, authoritarian, intrusive and dominating.

(Not that any of it helps: Research at Macquarie University in Australia showed that perfectionist parents’ tendencies to admonish kids and emphasize accuracy didn't decrease errors in children's work.)

Unsurprisingly kids of perfectionists are perfectionists too, adopting the same unreasonable expectations and exaggerated responses to failure. As a result, they're more likely to be anxious and obsessive. According to the University of Louisville researchers Nicholas Affrunti and Janet Woodriff-Borden, every time parents rush into fix something their kids learn their mistakes of threatening and they come to believe they can't be trusted to handle new experiences on the run.

And through their parents’ disengagement, kids learn that love is conditional. The only way to get it? Achieve.

Ashley Merryman, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, writing in ESPN the Magazine, May 11, 2015 issue