New research reveals that parents who put their children’s well-being before their own are not only happier, but also derive more meaning in life from their child-rearing responsibilities.
“These findings stand in contrast to claims in the popular media that prioritizing children’s well-being undermines parents’ well-being,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Researchers Drs. Claire E. Ashton-James of the University of Amsterdam and Elizabeth W. Dunn of the University of British Columbia, along with UBC Ph.D. student Kostadin Kushlev, conducted two studies with a total of 322 parents.
In the first study, parents were asked to complete a child-centrism scale to measure their parenting style.
They were then given a survey to measure the happiness and meaning in life that they experienced from having children. They did this by responding to statements, such as “My children make my life meaningful.”
The researchers found that more child-centric parents were significantly more likely to report higher happiness and a sense of purpose in life derived from having children.
In the second study, the parents were asked to recount their previous day’s activities and report how they felt during each activity. According to the researchers, the child-centric parents reported greater positive feelings, less negative feelings and experienced more meaning in life during child-care activities.
In addition, the well-being of the more child-centric parents was not affected negatively throughout the rest of the day, suggesting that the child-centric approach to parenting does not hurt parental well-being when parents are not taking care of their children, the researchers surmise.
“These findings suggest that the more care and attention people give to others, the more happiness and meaning they experience,” the researchers wrote in their study.
“From this perspective, the more invested parents are in their children’s well-being — that is, the more ‘child centric’ parents are — the more happiness and meaning they will derive from parenting.”
Source: SAGE Publications