Meghan Lee, a graduate student who was the lead author; Claire Kamp Dush, an assistant professor; and Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, an associate professor, found new mothers who think society expects them to be perfect showed less confidence in their parenting abilities and dads felt more stress when they were more worried about what other people thought about their parenting skills.
However, self-imposed pressure to be perfect was somewhat better for parents, especially for fathers, the researchers found.
The researchers examined 182 couples who became parents in 2008 to 2010. In the final trimester of the woman's pregnancy, both spouses completed a questionnaire measuring their levels of both societal-oriented and self-imposed parenting perfectionism.
Three months after the birth of their child, the couples again answered questions about their adjustment, the researcher said.
The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, showed parents' perfectionistic tendencies were associated with how well they adjusted -- mothers who had higher levels of societal-oriented perfectionism also tended to have lower levels of self-efficacy about their parenting.
"That means they didn't have as much confidence in their ability to perform their tasks as mothers," Schoppe-Sullivan said.
For fathers, societal-oriented perfectionism was associated with higher levels of parenting stress, the study said.