Think having children will make you happy? The phrase “pride and delight” is frequently used by parents to describe their children. However, research shows that having children does not always make individuals happier.
According to Jennifer Glass, a demographer who investigates the link between motherhood and well-being and a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, most parents believe their children are extremely essential sources of life pleasure.
Glass tells CNBC Make It, “But that’s not the same thing as happiness, and it’s not the same thing as financial well-being, excellent physical health, or good mental health.”
So, Think having children will make you happy??
Think having children will make you happy? Having children is an emotional roller coaster.
According to research, parents enjoy a “happy bump” shortly after their kid is born. But, according to Glass, this dissipates over a year.
After then, the satisfaction levels of parents and non-parents increasingly diverge, with non-parents becoming usually happier over time.
It’s not that parents are hesitant to welcome a child into their lives, but child-rearing is difficult.
Amy Blackstone, professor of sociology at the University of Maine and author of “Childfree by Choice,” tells CNBC Make It that “you find that [parents’] satisfaction plummets quite rapidly as they see all of the efforts that are involved with a brand new infant.”
Parents, according to Glass, prefer to focus on the good, loving experiences they share with their children while reminiscing on their life. “Thank goodness,” she continues, since “those same lovely tiny beings may send us into the pit of despair if something goes wrong.”
Happiness is a complex notion that includes life satisfaction, which refers to how content you are with the way things are going in your life, and well-being, which refers to how you feel in the present now.
While having children increases your life’s happiness, it also entails a great deal of responsibility and everyday stress. As a result, their parenting experience is characterized by a rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows.
Parents and nonparents have equal levels of life satisfaction, according to research from Princeton University and Stony Brook University, but parents have more daily joy and more daily stress than nonparents.
“Life is simply a lot more steady without children,” Glass explains.
Think having children will make you happy? Parents deal with “continuous low-level stresses” daily.
There are “a lot of continual low-level pressures in parents’ life,” Glass adds, from figuring out remote learning to waking up in the middle of the night to care for a sick child. Adults who are actively parenting are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
When children grow up and become self-sufficient, stress does not go away instantly. Only if their children have moved out, according to a 2019 research, are older parents happier than nonparents.
According to Glass, the price of having deep emotional ties with one’s children is a lot of stress and stress.
The “cost” of having children has been exacerbated by the fact that millions of women with children have been forced out of the workforce owing to increasing responsibilities at home during the epidemic.
According to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 75% of parents with children under the age of 18 stated they could have used more emotional support during the epidemic, and 48% of parents stated their stress levels had grown since the outbreak.
Children are costly, yet Americans do not receive much assistance.
Money is a significant element in parental satisfaction. When financial obstacles were eliminated from the equation, researchers discovered that having children increased pleasure.
In 2015, the average cost of raising a kid in the United States from birth to age 17 was projected to be over $233,000 (the most recent Consumer Expenditures Survey data from the USDA).
According to CNBC Make It, the average American family with children spends around $11,000 a year on direct and indirect child care expenditures.
Furthermore, “we have a societal framework in the United States that has made motherhood exceptionally difficult,” according to Glass.
Parents in the United States are much less pleased than parents in other industrialized countries with more liberal family policies, such as paid parental leave, according to a 2017 research. (In Finland, for example, new parents are given a package of baby supplies and 164 days of paid leave after giving birth.)
Childfree adults, who have made the deliberate and explicit decision to forego motherhood, may have greater flexibility, time, and money to pursue interests that are meaningful to them, according to Blackstone.
Non Parents have the freedom to spend their money in ways that have been demonstrated to improve happiness, such as investing in personal development or interacting with their communities.
People who choose not to have children are more likely to give to causes that are important to them and to save for their retirement.
“Many of us can tuck away money for retirement in a way that parents may not be able to accomplish since we are not spending our money rearing children,” Blackstone adds.
Read also: Is it lonely being an only child?