Are Childless Couples Happier Than Parents?

July 01, 2008 07:03 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
Studies show that having children doesn’t necessarily make you a happier person.

30-Second Summary

Some recent studies on parenthood indicate that childless individuals are happier than those with kids.

“Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers,” reported sociology professor Robin Simon.

Some parents may bristle at that idea
, but psychology professor Dr. Daniel Gilbert explains that professionals aren’t saying parents don’t love their children. “Of course you love your children beyond measure! And kids do bring joy,” Gilbert adds. “It’s just that children do not increase your average daily enjoyment.”

Lysette Butler said that even 10 years ago she faced accusations of being selfish for choosing not to have children. However, she just attributed the remarks to envy.

“When you are a harassed mum it must be difficult not to feel a bit of jealousy about couples who don’t endure the sleepless nights or the stress and financial drain that children represent.”

“Societal ills aside, perhaps we also expect too much from the promise of parenting,” suggested Lorraine Ali of Newsweek.

People are getting married and having children later in life, which comparatively may make shuttling kids to various activities less exciting than past experiences.

The answer may lie in the definition of happiness, said Karen Reivich, a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center.

“Happiness is more than just that smiley feeling,” Reivich explained. “It’s also feeling a connection to something larger than yourself. When people are in service to something bigger, they describe their lives as filled with meaning. It’s not the smiley face, but when it’s all over, you realize you’d do it again.”

Headline Link: Parental happiness

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