Saturday, May 22, 2010

People with kids less happy

Heard this interesting piece on NPR about new research that suggests people with kids are less happy than those without. The question the piece poses is this: why do people have kids if it makes them less happy?

I can't answer the question because I don't think the finding is accurate: having kids doesn't make us less happy, it just makes us happy in a different way.

Yes, I miss my free time. I miss being able to get up and go whenever I want, to do things without having to worry about how Olive's feeding or nap time fits in. I miss my old body (funny how I used to be dissatisfied with it; now I'd love to have it back!). And it's become a serious challenge to spend quality alone time with my husband when only a few months ago we could do this whenever we wanted.

But the trade-off? This precious little life, wholly dependent on you. Watching your child grow, learn and imitate you. Feeling rewarded when they make good choices, achieve success and create their own family.

I don't believe children make us less happy. In fact, I think they give us more than happiness; they give us true joy. And while it can be stressful, time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming to be a parent, it makes the payoff that much sweeter.

5 comments:

Brandon said...

Reminds me of a NY Times article I ran into when Annie and I were expecting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/opinion/05coontz.html?_r=3&em

In short, it backs up what you're thinking: happiness doesn't always decrease with childbirth, but it takes more thought and effort from the parents to maintain a fulfilling relationship.

Kendra said...

I think if more people truly thought out why and when they wanted to have kids instead of just fulfilling (what some feel as) an obligation, this wouldn't be true.

christine said...

PBS did an interesting documentary on this. "This Emotional Life" highlights studies that looked at mothers' brains' reactions to their children smiling. The same pleasure centers that react to food and sex were responded. They also looked oxitocin levels in children in relation to their relationships with their parents and vice a versa. Interesting stuff.

Overall I think true happiness takes work. Sometimes it comes easily, but other times it's really hard.

"This Emotional Life" is available on Netflix.

Kumi said...

What a smart girl! You just became a mother and already figured out that children give us more than happiness; they give us true JOY. My life is so empty without our children.

MamaM said...

Kendra, I totally agree. We purposely waited six years before getting pregnant because we had other things we wanted to do before becoming parents. I know some people thought that was selfish, but I didn't care! My family planning is no one's business but my family's. During those six years, there were a couple of times I thought I may have been pregnant and cried because I didn't want kids yet. Now that I'm a parent, I have no regrets and am truly happy, and I think it's because hubby and I did things on our own timetable and not what others thought we should do.