Children and Personal Fulfillment

According to a Pew Research Center Survey, that WashingtonPost.com ran, children rank as highest sense of personal fulfillment for parents but they have dropped to one of the things that most people say create a successful marriage.

The WashingtonPost.com ran an article a short time ago tiled “To Be Happy In Marriage, Baby Carriage Not Required.”

Here’s the opening paragraph:

“Children rank as the highest source of personal fulfillment for their parents but have dropped to one of the least-cited factors in a successful marriage, according to a national survey to be released today.”

Here’s the Pew Research Center survey.

The Post article continued: “Marriage today, like the rest of our lives, is about personal satisfaction,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociology and public policy professor at Johns Hopkins University.

In other words, people want children to fill their own personal needs, wants, and desires, and nobody else’s. Additionally, marriage is about filling their personal needs as well.

Does anybody else see something wrong here? I’m not arguing the facts, nor am I suggesting that people are wrong. It isn’t my business to tell people what they should and should not think, prioritize, or embody.

I think the issue is in the way the study infers and defines the term personal fulfillment.

I think it’s possible that the authors of the study are confusing the word pleasure with the term personal fulfillment.

Pleasure is a feeling that’s hard to define, illusive to find, and something that everyone strives to experience. We all look for ways to find enjoyment and gratification in our everyday lives.

I see personal fulfillment as something distinctly different. It involves many things, including not only relationships that we have with others (as suggested by the survey), but also learning and growing, self-realization/self-actualization/self-definition, reaching your highest potential and levels of creativity, and simply being contented with where you’re at and where you’re going.

In our fast-paced, always-on, instant-gratification world, our desires for immediate and ever-lasting pleasure sometimes interfere with what’s most important – our attitudes, beliefs, values, and virtues – the very things that contribute the most to our personal fulfillment.

Thanks to Grace of Sandier Pastures for including me in the Carnival of Family Life.

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