Do Children Make Us Happy?

With Mother’s Day over, and with Father’s Day just around the corner, many of us reflect on what it’s like to be a parent. Many of us say that we find parenting fulfilling, and that we are happy, but some studies suggest that this isn’t the case. Indeed, over the course of decades, many studies find that parents are unhappy as they have more children.

Over the years, since the 1950s, researchers have been trying to measure levels of happiness in parents. With married couples, some studies find that satisfaction decreases as children are introduced into the mix, and only really increases later in life — after the children have left the house. However, parents continue to insist that having children make them happy, even though it doesn’t seem as though they really are. Or, at the very least, there are indications that parents could be happier with fewer children, or with no children at all.

The Reality: Raising Kids is Challenging

Children can change the relationship dynamics in your family, and it can sometimes be difficult to raise them. Children require a lot of time and effort. They can’t do anything on their own at first, and it can be frustrating to try and reason with them. Additionally, you might be restricted in the activities you can do if you are committed to spending quality time with your child. Plus, if your child is involved with activities, you can feel as though your time is being commandeered by baseball games and school plays. It’s easy to begin to feel as though you are no longer in control of your schedule.

Indeed, some of the realities of raising kids involve feeling as though you aren’t completely in control. That can be hard sometimes, and it takes practice to put someone else’s needs and wants ahead of your own. The potential for resentment can increase. This is especially true if you begin toting up the cost of having kids. While there are plenty of ways to reduce the costs, you still sometimes think about what the money could have been spent on instead.

Raising children is probably one of the most difficult things you can do, and there are times that you just may not be happy with what you are doing.

Does that Mean It’s Not Worth It?

Of course, the fact that you aren’t delirious with happiness all the time doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it to have kids. Even though there are times I am annoyed with my son, or times that I am frustrated, overall I don’t regret having him. I don’t wish that he hadn’t been born. And, when I see him make good decisions, or succeed in some way, I feel a surge of pride that makes the hard work worth it.

Sometimes, worthwhile things aren’t “fun.” Sometimes obligation and duty don’t make you happy all the time. But, in the long run, the difficult things can be worth all the trouble. Especially when you feel as though you succeeded in raising a person you’re proud of. Everyone is different, and has to decide for themselves how many kids to have — or whether to have kids at all. But if you approach it with a good attitude, chances are that, in the long run, it will be worth it, even if there is a little unhappiness now.

What do you think?

3 Responses to Do Children Make Us Happy?

  1. My children drive me crazy, but for all the madness they impart I could not imagine my life without them. Children make the world a more magical place, and for me they even give me something to look forward to in the golden years. I have 3 girls, and when I think of a future filled with grandchildren, it makes the birthdays a little warmer. Especially when I consider that I can send them home with their parents and get a good night sleep 🙂

    I’ve never understood those “cost of raising a child” articles either.. does anyone think it’s cheap? Does anyone think it’s profitable to raise children? I understand that many don’t consider the cost before embarking on parenthood, but so many of those articles focus solely the fact that it’s a money losing proposition, implying that anyone raising a child is making a bad money move.

    Children (and parenting) are not about money, IMO.

  2. I agree that you shouldn’t look at parenting from a profit standpoint. After all, you probably aren’t going to be compensated for raising your child. It really is a labor of love.

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