Considering the effect of implicit motives, the current study examined the link between well-being in important life domains,
that is, job and relationship, and the satisfaction of needs as proposed by self-determination theory. Data on domain-specific
well-being, satisfaction of needs for competence and relatedness, and the implicit achievement and affiliation motives were
assessed from 259 German and Cameroonian participants. The achievement motive moderated the relation between competence and
job satisfaction. Furthermore, the affiliation motive moderated the association between relatedness and relationship satisfaction.
Satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness is linked to higher levels of job and relationship satisfaction,
respectively, among individuals with strong implicit motives. Effects were found regardless of participants’ culture of origin.
Findings indicate that implicit motives can be understood as weighting dispositions that affect how far experiences of competence
and relatedness are linked with satisfaction in relevant life domains.

What makes parenting or any relationship satisfying? Is it how much praise you get from other parents? Can you measure it from the number of hugs your child gives you or track it by how quickly they do their chores? The attached article suggests that satisfaction in relationships comes as a result of ones internal motivation.

The actual social psychology term is “implicit motives” and seems to a hot research term right now. Implicit motives are fairly stable, unconscious needs that reflect emotional satisfaction. A parent that feels a need for close, loving attachments will feel highly satisfied by a child’s hugs. A parent who has a motive to get a lot done in a day will feel satisfied by having chores completed quickly, to use our examples above.

A key word in this definition of implicit motives is “unconcious” need. Most of the time, the need to feel love and appreciated (another way of feeling satisfied as a parent) or respected by ones family is outside of our awareness. We don’t even know that we have this need but we do know when it is not getting met.

There is probably some overlay between implicit motives and our parenting styles. In my book “Love and Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting” I spend quite a bit of time discussing parenting styles. The two dominate types are Authoritarian and Permissive parenting styles. I compare each style to a certain balance between love and limits, two distinct parenting value or what we might call here as motives in parenting. Click here to get more info on these styles.

The Authoritarian style is characterized by “high limits and low love”. Love is defined as the need for affection by the parent or the level of warmth felt by the child from the parent. The Permissive style is characterized by “high love and low limits”. Each style, I believe, expressing a certain need that is mostly unconscious. This need translates into how satisfied a parent might feel. An Authoritarian parents will feel satisfied is a child is obedient or respectful towards them and follows the rules of the home. A Permissive parents might feel satisfied if the child is expressive of their affection and will have conversations with them or negotiate situations positively. The challenge comes when parents have opposite parenting styles and motivations about how they feel satisfied in their parenting roles. This can and often does result in parenting disagreements. If there is not resolution for “how one parents” children in the home, the children will begin to take advantage of the situation.

It seems obvious that one solution to this is increased awareness. Hopefully, reading this blog post makes you more conscious of your parenting style and how you feel satisfied as a parents or to state it another way, why you don’t feel satisfied. Implicit motives can be changed by education and learning experiences. One quickly realizes that your teenager isn’t as willing to show physical affection as he did just a year or so earlier. Consequently, the level of satisfaction, based on Permissive parenting alone is not enough and some change on the part of the parent is needed. In this situation, adapting to some clearer set of limits that are age appropriate and fair is necessary. Standing your ground and applying consequences is too. Neither of these are going to make a permissive parent feel loved but there are going to be necessary.

In my book I make the argument that a “balance” in love and limits in parenting is necessary. To be more specific, a balance of high love and high limits are the best way to parent children over the course of the developmental roller coaster ride of parenting. Parents with difference styles can use their individual strengths to compliment each other instead of dividing one another. If a defiant teens needs some structure, a more authoritarian parent can step in to set the rules of the household one more time. This parent isn’t needing validation from the child to feel satisfied. They feel it by setting the limit. Conversely, a permissive parent can step in when arguments are boiling between parent and teen and a more delicate hand is needed to get through the situation.

Share your thoughts on what makes you feel satisfied as a parent? How do you and your partner compliment each other in your parenting styles?

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