Parenting: Why Breeders Rule

Some psychologists have revised Maslow's Pyramid of Needs--and it has stuck in my craw. Here's why.

The original pyramid had self-actualization at the top. You take care of your basic needs--shelter, food--then you get love and respect and self-actualize by doing what gives you joy: running, teaching, macrame, writing, baking bread, yoga.





But the revised pyramid puts parenting at the top! In fact, the top three are mate acquisition, mate retention, and then parenting.


I don't doubt that many people find self-actualization in parenting. The soul-crushing love, the willingness to put your life before another's. But not me. In fact, I made a choice to remain childless. My husband and I have been married eight years and we didn't reproduce. Not that I don't love children and my many friends with adorable sprouts--I do! I'm no child-eating witch.

But the new pyramid implies that one can't be truly happy without reproducing. And, for that matter, finding a mate. That seems reductive, breeder-centric, biologically based. And insulting.

I'm 43, so it's way too late for me to be truly happy, according to the new pyramid. Nevertheless I'm happy with the decision I made. I don't miss the children I didn't have.

Here's a suggestion: Let's revise the Pyramid again--and put banana cream pie at the top!
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13 Response to Parenting: Why Breeders Rule

July 17, 2010 at 7:44 AM

You say "child eating witch" like it's a bad thing. Trust me, children are very tasty!

July 17, 2010 at 7:47 AM

Huh. I think it's so weird they put all three of those things up there. I mean, plenty of perfectly happy people choose to be mateless too. Your post makes me want to look into who "revised" (I'm thinking men--no offense to men but I can't help but think that) this and why.
Plus, what was wrong with the original pyramid?

July 17, 2010 at 7:54 AM

Ok, I should have read the link to the article before I made the above comment. But I was right; the team was led by an XY. I still like the old school pyramid better but they're right, maybe a pyramid isn't the right metaphor. All of this is so reductive anyway; people are individuals, they can't be classified like food groups.

July 17, 2010 at 7:56 AM

In my humble little opinion, it also discriminates against our LGBT friends. And that kind of pisses me off.

July 17, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Expounding on Sans's comment, the asexual rights advocate me is enraged. It reminds me of the child development class I took for my psychology minor, and the professor constantly started sentences with, "When you get married and have kids..." It was a college class, and it was supposed to be a PROFESSIONAL view of child development, not a parenting class. Geez. I really get mad when folks assume everyone wants to get married/have kids and that both things make you a better person.

Doesn't this take Eleanor Roosevelt off of the top of the pyramid, too?

July 17, 2010 at 1:16 PM

The new pyramid is nonsense. This discriminates against a huge portion of the population (I won't repeat what's already been said above). Frankly, to me this smacks of right-wing, pro-marriage conservatism and is yet another manipulation tool to convince people who can't think for themselves that what they should do is simply go forth and procreate... and vote against things like gay marriage and anything that violates "traditional family values". Excuse me while I gag.

July 17, 2010 at 7:06 PM

I know MANY southern women whose pyramids are recursive rather than linear. Mate Retention as the means to Status/Esteem, Affiliation, Self Protection, and Immediate Physiological Needs - and then they do it all over again. Kind of like looking down through the center of a tornado, not a two-dimensional pyramid. Children are sometimes incidental in this version.

I doubt it's just a southern thing, though.

July 17, 2010 at 7:50 PM

Is it me or does the revised pyramid seem...I don't know, dated and behind the times. I had one child and honestly, she did a great job raising herself (kidding obviously).

I know plenty of people who don't need to validate themselves by being with someone. I guess I haven't caught up with the times and like having a mind of my own. (Hugs)Indigo

July 19, 2010 at 7:19 PM

這個部落格好好好~棒棒棒............................................................

July 25, 2010 at 2:35 AM

當我微笑時,世界和我一起微笑;當我快樂時,世界和我一起活躍。..................................................

July 27, 2010 at 11:13 PM

愛,拆開來是心和受兩個字。用心去接受對方的一切,用心去愛對方的所有。......................................................................

July 29, 2010 at 7:34 AM

Robin! I love this post. I couldn't agree with you more.

I'm totally chapped they're really revising the pyramid. hah

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