You know those baby-obsessed moms who can't talk about anything except their children and who appear incapable of having a single thought independent from the subject of parenting? Yeah, I hate to tell you this, but apparently they're happier than the rest of us who are trying to live "balanced" lives. A new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that parents who put their kids' happiness above their own actually feel happier and enjoy a deeper sense of purpose in life from their parenting. So much from that whole "put the oxygen mask over your own face, first" philosophy!
Honestly, I don't know if I even want to read the rest of the article. I don't think I'm ready to handle this information. It runs counter to everything I previously believed.
I get it -- to a certain degree you really do have to surrender to parenting and a child-centric world in order to make it work. Parenting is the kind of major life-changing enterprise that demands whole-hearted focus and commitment. If you're not in it with both feet you might as well not even bother.
And yes, the more you put into any endeavor the more you get out of it.
But what if we turned this around? Maybe the people who choose to live a child-centered life are happier because they were inclined to live a child-centered life in the first place? Know what I mean? If you go into parenting having already decided to surrender, and if you have a positive attitude about that surrender, then of course you'll have fewer moments of resentment. That was definitely me during the first couple years of my son's life, and I was incredibly happy -- then. The conflicts between what I wanted and what my child wanted were minimal because what I wanted all along was to be fully immersed in parenthood. That was my idea of a great time. I felt more satisfied with life because I was getting out of it what I expected to.
I also stopped with one child. And then, as my son grew older, less of my life revolved around his.
These days I prefer the struggle of striving for balance between my child's happiness and my own. No, they're not mutually exclusive. But all I know is my own experience, and that tells me that a few well-chosen, regular moments of selfishness make me happier and more satisfied with my life.
Does this study's findings match up with your own experience? Do you think parents who are kid-centric really are happier?
Image via Thomas/Flickr