Culture & Entertainment

Putting Kids First = Happier Parents

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Putting Kids First = Happier Parents

My sister recently alerted me to a new study completed by her friend, Vanier scholar Kostadin Kushlev at UBC. The study looks at “child-centrism,” which is when parents prioritize their children's well-being above their own. I think most parents probably subscribe to some form of child-centrism; I mean, you have to. Otherwise, you'd just have someone else watch your kid 24/7 and not change your life at all. But most parents want to raise their kids, and with that, comes making decisions in your child's best interest before your own. And I'm the first to admit that not all of these decisions are easy. So I was intrigued that this particular study is the first to show "that putting your children’s happiness and needs before your own is actually associated with more positive emotions, fewer negative emotions, and more meaning when parents spend time with their children,” says Kushlev. That flies in the face of what you normally hear--that you need to take care of yourself before caring for others. Instead, it falls in line with a perhaps less-popular philosophy--that personal well-being is associated with investing in others instead of oneself. I do feel happy if I know my daughter is happy. I have no problem forgoing things for myself if it means I can get her something extra special or attend an event she will really enjoy, even if it's something I would have sooner poked my eyes out over prior to parenthood. And I do think you derive greater meaning from your time with your kids if you've intentionally made the decision to spend time with them and be "present," rather than just physically being there with the TV blaring or texting/Facebooking the whole time. That said, I'm not always thrilled to miss an event because it interferes with napping, sacrifice a trip that's not kid-friendly or pass up an indulgent dinner at a fancy restaurant. It all comes down to balance. I have zero qualms about taking time out for me to go to a yoga class or get a massage. I am 100% a happier mom/wife after I've had that kind of mini-break. You still have to be your own person, living not only to raise your kids. Kids need to see that their parents have interests/duties separate from them. But at the end of the day, I believe it's every parent's obligation to put their kids first, not all, but most of the time.
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Putting Kids First = Happier Parents

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