Your Children Weren't Meant to Fulfill You - Baby Chick
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Your Children Weren’t Meant to Fulfill You

Having children can and does lead to happiness, but they weren't meant to fulfill you. Here is why and how you can focus on true fulfillment.

Updated July 16, 2024 Opinion

When it comes to living a fulfilling life, we can look at what that means in many ways. While having children can be a piece of that, they aren’t the entire picture of what it means to be fulfilled. We have a limited time, so it is only natural to wonder if you are doing enough.

Sometimes we tend to stake our happiness on having children, but this is a form of unfair pressure we’re putting on them. Relying on others, including our children, to make us happy doesn’t work. You can still experience much joy from your kids without relying on them to fulfill you.

Relying on Your Kids Will Not Fulfill You

The drive to have kids is something many people experience. We often think of this as a huge chapter in our lives, and we are right. Having kids is a big deal, but it is also one of the most challenging jobs in the world. We love them so much, but it is no secret that parents sometimes burn out. Being that needed by another person, never mind the sleep deprivation, is exhausting. We rely on our kids to bring us happiness, and while they do, our lives can’t be entirely fulfilled by them. Here are some reasons why.

They’re a Constant Rollercoaster Ride

There is no doubt that the highs with kids are the best, but the lows are rough. Kids can make us happy, but they also stress us out and frustrate us more than anything else. The ups and downs are intense, so it can be hard to be completely fulfilled. According to a study from Princeton University and Stony Brook University, parents and nonparents have similar levels of life satisfaction. The difference is that parents experience more daily joy and stress than nonparents.1

They’re Expensive

Caring for children is expensive. This piece can add additional stress to your life. According to the 2015 Consumer Expenditures Survey, you can expect to spend almost $13,000 per child per year in a middle-income family with two kids. This number can be staggering and leads to about $284,570 for one child born in 2015 if you consider inflation.2,3

You Need to Recognize Your Other Dreams

Many women have other dreams that don’t include children. While kids may be one of their dreams, it doesn’t mean it’s the only one. If you do your job right, in a few short years, your kids will be out of the house and thriving on their own. You will no longer have someone who constantly needs you. What will you do then? If you give up on your own dreams now, you may struggle to pick them back up again when the kids have flown the coop. Continuing to follow your passions can be crucial for your life fulfillment.

Find What Fulfills You

When it comes down to it, we need to look inside ourselves for fulfillment. Expecting other people to provide this fulfillment for us will only lead to disappointment. The concept of fulfillment is about more than just happiness but also an internal sense of wholeness. According to a study published in 2022 by psychologists Doris Baumann and Professor Willibald Ruch, pursuing fulfillment is key to our mental health.4

The question then is how to do it. If having kids wasn’t meant to be your fulfillment, then what was? Here are some ideas for finding what fulfills you.

1. Focus on Your Relationships

While our relationships with our kids are important here, you must also look at building other relationships. A study by Harvard concluded that good relationships keep us both happier and healthier. The key here isn’t just having relationships but the interactions and connections that make them up.5

2. Spend Your Time Wisely

If there’s anything that we know too well as moms, time seems to accelerate as soon as we have kids. They seem to grow overnight, and we are more aware of the passing of time. Be present in the moments and try to accomplish something meaningful daily. Try to structure your days to give yourself an hour to focus on something solely for your fulfillment.

3. Forgive Yourself and Others

To go along with the importance of time, get rid of hate and forgive yourself and others quickly. Holding onto grudges will distract you from enjoying your life. Everyone makes mistakes, and the sooner you can forgive, the better off your relationships will be.

4. Find a Purpose in Your Work

Even if your career isn’t the big dream of your life, you can still find something in it to value. Or maybe your career is raising your kids. That’s okay. You can do other work that will add purpose and meaning to your life outside your kids. Do you have a passion for animals? Volunteer or donate money to a shelter or start fostering rescues. Do you love to work with your hands? Start a hobby that you can engross yourself in for a few minutes a day or an hour a week. Find a purpose that is just for you.

5. Chase Your Dreams

Finding purpose is essential in fulfilling yourself. Whether through your work or chasing dreams, that’s up to you. Try to find some sort of purpose in both. Building toward a goal will help keep you focused, and you can celebrate the milestones along the way.

Realizing that the key to fulfillment is within yourself can relieve a lot of pressure from your interactions with your kids and allow you to enjoy the moments with them instead. Even if one of your main goals in life is to raise children, that isn’t the only ambition you have. Focus on leading a well-rounded life, and your family will benefit.

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Kristen N. Winiarski spends much of her days battling her kids' hangry moods with bacon and Cookie Monster impressions. She also encourages dance parties as P.E. whenever possible. Kristen started… Read more

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