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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs revisited

Yikes!

I can see it's been over a month since I posted here - and that wasn't a very long post either!

So - I mentioned in the last post an article about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Apparently, some researchers have changed this - replacing 'self-actualizsation' with 'parenting' and 'having a mate'.

I find this rather problematic - it implies that the highest level that you can achieve as a person in society to to parent a child - and also be in a relationship.

I'd rather that we have values such as nurturing or having connections to others at the top of the pyramid.

I know many single people who lead happy and fulfilling lives - and many child-free people too. And although I'm sure that the researchers don't mean to imply that single and/or child-free people aren't just as fulfilled, how they've placed parenting and being in an intimate relationship at the top of this pyramid certainly implies this. What do you think?

2 comments:

Pandor42 said...

On the concept of being useful to society, having a child is definitely high, if not top, on the list. Being single and nurturing is not contributing to society; you aren't directly influencing the future with your own genes. Only on that fact do I agree.

931dm said...

Oh, dear. I think it's certainly misguided to claim that parenting and marriage are the be-all and end-all of happiness. I have read many great research papers and books on happiness. From them, it quickly becomes clear that happiness has very little to do with anything that can be quantified in a "check box" kind of way. Achievements - work, home or otherwise - are merely belt notches and don't in themselves contribute to well-being.

I actually like "self-actualization" better because it is non-specific and flexible to a great many goals and needs. It says: do what you want, and be happy doing it! Not so much hedonism as good psychological health practice, in my opinion. Promoting ONE particular life outcome - cisgender, heterosexual, patriarchally oriented, heteronormative, monogamous, pronatalist - among countless many as the "peak" of human existence is simple minded beyond belief.