My thought train runs wild from time to time, and today I puzzled over the hierarchy of needs, developed by Maslow, which I learned about in high school psychology. My thoughts were more like pop ups, the biggest conundrum being about how people like me, who care for children whose needs often trump our own, can pursue personal development and self-care, and the obstacles we must overcome in so doing. Yet, many of the parents whose children have complex developmental and/or medical needs are some of the most self-actualized people I have the privilege of knowing.
How is this so?
According to the diagram, we should be stuck in the lower levels, with concerns about such things as sleep, safety and health being all we have energy to pursue. Often, we become isolated, missing out on a sense of love and belonging, but yet, despite the obvious deficits in the lower levels, many of us are diligent about exercise, healthy diet, self-care, and are actively engaged in self-esteem and self-actualization levels.
It doesn’t make sense.
When you lack sleep, fear for the well-being of a family member, and struggle with employment and socialization because of your life situation, how do you focus on confidence, acheivement, morality, creativity, and inner potential?
Yet people are doing it. Many of us.
Are we an exception to the rule, or does a certain amount of moderate, ongoing crisis lend itself to a resilience and persistence that promotes self-development?
I believe the latter.
This is all based on subjective observation, anecdotal evidence, if you will, which is essentially bunk in the scientific world. Yet, I’m inclined to believe that we’ve entered a new evolutionary stage. We have, in just the last hundred or so years, advanced to the point where we can keep children born with significant medical diagnoses alive for longer than we ever have before. We are a new breed of parents in the grand scheme of things, parents that history and psychology has not had significant time to study and understand.
And I wonder if there is something about complex medical or developmental parenting that brings out the best in people.
If you met me friends who parent these children, I am certain you would agree.