The Whole View, Season 3 Ep 60: Positive Parenting Without Perfectionism w/ Dr. Jen Douglas


Welcome Psychologist and Clinicial Assistant Professor Dr. Jennifer (Jen) Douglas to The Whole View! Stacy and Dr. Douglas discuss how perfectionism can fuel avoidance and physical symptoms, the importance of modeling self-compassion for our children, and why women do not benefit from the standards of perfectionism often set upon them.

Find Dr. Jen Douglas:

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Key Takeaways


  • Dr. Jen Douglas is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. She earned her PhD at the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.
  • She completed her internship training at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System where she specialized in PTSD and behavioral medicine and her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine.
  • In addition to her private practice Dr. Douglas provides individual and group care for anxiety, depression, trauma and eating disorders through Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Furthermore, she teaches coursework on diversity to postdoctoral fellows at Stanford University.
  • She centers her practice around each of her client’s individual strengths. Culturally sensitive psychology is the bedrock of Dr. Douglas’ therapy philosophy.

Positive Parenting Without Perfectionism

  • Perfectionism set us up so our needs will not be met. Rugged self sufficiency leave us isolated, burned out, and resentful. [IG post
  • Avoidance is one of the hallmark traits of anxiety. When we engage in perfectionism we are trying to avoid any discomfort. [IG post] We tell ourselves if we just outwork ourselves, if we just outsmart all of these issues, we can avoid all the painful parts of being human.
  • Perfection turns everything into a race with goal posts along the way. And parenting can very much turn into exactly that. We have to engage in self-compassion, and we have to engage in allowing imperfection ourselves, and that’s when our children really begin to thrive.
  • Who’s benefitting from perfectionism in women? It’s not women. When we look at perfectionism in all the things that we’ve been talking about – from body image to accomplishments, academically or in the workforce, to parenting our children – there is expectation of perfection of women that is fed to us from day one.
  • Somatic manifestations of anxiety and perfectionism in the body: upset stomach, muscle tension, GI challenges, tension headaches, migraines, trouble sleeping. Letting go of perfectionism can improve your physical health. Stress and anxiety from the pursuit of perfectionism can negatively impact your body. [IG post]

Next Steps

  • When you sign off of work, do you really sign off? When you want to spend time with your partner, are you still on your phone scrolling?
  • How we spend our time often doesn’t align with our values. When we get away from our values unhappiness starts to increase.
  • Perfectionism keeps us stuck in our heads and not doing what makes us happy. Assess if you’re spending too much time ruminating on work, searching for the ‘perfect’ advice on IG, or endlessly shopping for the outfit that will make you feel like your life is together.
  • Instead – recalibrate to what you want your life to look like – your day to day will be better for it:
    • Make a list of all the important things that you love and want to spend your time on. Ex. family pets, reading, work, art, exercise, money
    • Then, make a pie chart of how important these are to you – or simply rank them
    • Then make a pie chart of how your TIME is spent on each of these
    • Obviously we can’t usually throw out our jobs entirely to focus on hobbies and friendships, but we can migrate into doing something we love. It’s likely we may not be spending our time in as values-aligned ways as we could [IG Post]

Studies, References & Products


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Note: Stacy and her guests are not medical professionals. This podcast is for general educational purposes and NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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