Friday, August 15, 2008

having kids makes u happy

With reference to my last post i saw this article---

When I was growing up, our former neighbors, whom we'll call the Sloans, were the only couple on the block without kids. It wasn't that they couldn't have children; according to Mr. Sloan, they just chose not to. All the other parents, including mine, thought it was odd—even tragic. So any bad luck that befell the Sloans—the egging of their house one Halloween; the landslide that sent their pool careering to the street below—was somehow attributed to that fateful decision they'd made so many years before. "Well," the other adults would say, "you know they never did have kids." Each time I visited the Sloans, I'd search for signs of insanity, misery or even regret in their superclean home, yet I never seemed to find any. From what I could tell, the Sloans were happy, maybe even happier than my parents, despite the fact that they were (whisper) childless.
My impressions may have been swayed by the fact that their candy dish was always full, but several studies now show that the Sloans could well have been more content than most of the traditional families around them. In Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness," the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home. He also ascertains that parents are happier grocery shopping and even sleeping than spending time with their kids. Other data cited by 2008's "Gross National Happiness" author, Arthur C. Brooks, finds that parents are about 7 percentage points less likely to report being happy than the childless.
The most recent comprehensive study on the emotional state of those with kids shows us that the term "bundle of joy" may not be the most accurate way to describe our offspring. "Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers," says Florida State University's Robin Simon, a sociology professor who's conducted several recent parenting studies, the most thorough of which came out in 2005 and looked at data gathered from 13,000 Americans by the National Survey of Families and Households. "In fact, no group of parents—married, single, step or even empty nest—reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children. It's such a counterintuitive finding because we have these cultural beliefs that children are the key to happiness and a healthy life, and they're not."
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Simon received plenty of hate mail in response to her research ("Obviously Professor Simon hates her kids," read one), which isn't surprising. Her findings shake the very foundation of what we've been raised to believe is true. In a recent NEWSWEEK Poll, 50 percent of Americans said that adding new children to the family tends to increase happiness levels. Only one in six (16 percent) said that adding new children had a negative effect on the parents' happiness. But which parent is willing to admit that the greatest gift life has to offer has in fact made his or her life less enjoyable?
Parents may openly lament their lack of sleep, hectic schedules and difficulty in dealing with their surly teens, but rarely will they cop to feeling depressed due to the everyday rigors of child rearing. "If you admit that kids and parenthood aren't making you happy, it's basically blasphemy," says Jen Singer, a stay-at-home mother of two from New Jersey who runs the popular parenting blog MommaSaid.net. "From baby-lotion commercials that make motherhood look happy and well rested, to commercials for Disney World where you're supposed to feel like a kid because you're there with your kids, we've made parenthood out to be one blissful moment after another, and it's disappointing when you find out it's not."
Is it possible that American parents have always been this disillusioned? Anecdotal evidence says no. In pre-industrial America, parents certainly loved their children, but their offspring also served a purpose—to work the farm, contribute to the household. Children were a necessity. Today, we have kids more for emotional reasons, but an increasingly complicated work and social environment has made finding satisfaction far more difficult. A key study by University of Wisconsin-Madison's Sara McLanahan and Julia Adams, conducted some 20 years ago, found that parenthood was perceived as significantly more stressful in the 1970s than in the 1950s; the researchers attribute part of that change to major shifts in employment patterns. The majority of American parents now work outside the home, have less support from extended family and face a deteriorating education and health-care system, so raising children has not only become more complicated—it has become more expensive. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that it costs anywhere from $134,370 to $237,520 to raise a child from birth to the age of 17—and that's not counting school or college tuition. No wonder parents are feeling a little blue.

Societal ills aside, perhaps we also expect too much from the promise of parenting. The National Marriage Project's 2006 "State of Our Unions" report says that parents have significantly lower marital satisfaction than nonparents because they experienced more single and child-free years than previous generations. Twenty-five years ago, women married around the age of 20, and men at 23. Today both sexes are marrying four to five years later. This means the experience of raising kids is now competing with highs in a parent's past, like career wins ("I got a raise!") or a carefree social life ("God, this is a great martini!"). Shuttling cranky kids to school or dashing to work with spit-up on your favorite sweater doesn't skew as romantic.
For the childless, all this research must certainly feel redeeming. As for those of us with kids, well, the news isn't all bad. Parents still report feeling a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives than those who've never had kids. And there are other rewarding aspects of parenting that are impossible to quantify. For example, I never thought it possible to love someone as deeply as I love my son. As for the Sloans, it's hard to say whether they had a less meaningful existence than my parents, or if my parents were 7 percent less happy than the Sloans. Perhaps it just comes down to how you see the candy dish—half empty or half full. Or at least as a parent, that's what I'll keep telling myself.

you can find it here---

Having Kids Makes You Happy
By Lorraine Ali NEWSWEEK
July 7-14, 2008 issue

9 comments:

Smriti said...

A very interesting article and I totally agree with Jen Singer (one of the participants). We're expected to only appreciate parenthood so even if somebody feels otherwise I'm sure they can't shout it loud in this world. We're ingrained with the rule that once you get married you must have kids and if you get married then everybody around you assumes that one day you will have kids. Otherwise you'll be "Mr Sloan". I think people should ask themselves the question "Why" instead of "When" they want to have kids.

True, parenthood is becoming more and more stressful with every passing year because parents are becoming over ambitious not only for themselves but for their kids too and many treat their kids like status symbols. One of my friends' daughter's daycare teacher told them that they should send their not-even-2-yr-old to spanish class!!

I believe that if something brings you happiness then it will bring anxiety too because there's a balance in the nature.

Renu said...

Yes I fully agree, the more and more I thought about it I realised that though children give you unparalleled happiness but they bring with them lots of responsibilities,work,anxiety and lifelong worry also.
But there is a different charm in having someone whom--
u love more than urself.
u cant live without them.
will do anything for them.
u may crib,scold or shout but ur heart beats for them, so they are worth every penny:)

and yes balance in nature---is right as the person u love most only has the power to hurt u most.

Reflections said...

I personally know an old lady who has 7 children...6 of them in very good financial positions. But the old lady lives with the financially unstable son, lying in a dirty bed paralysed, neglected by all.
All of the children, if u meet them individually talk really sensibly & act mature in their thinking but behind the scenes, their mother is in such a pitiable situation.
As a bystander, my eyes sting when I see this & cant even begin to imagine how much that mother must be suffering...
Sometimes I think...having children is just over-rated feeling.

Renu said...

It is the same story everywhere and it tells us that finances are not important where duties are concerned, it is the will to do.
parents always console themslves thinking..may be they erred somehwere in the upbringing.

my space said...

As Patanjali says-whatever gives you pleasure also gives you pain in equal measure...so though the kids are a delight they do cause a lot of heartache..and yes it is the pressure from around us that makes us believe that one must have kids..Why? If one chooses not to have kids he`s labelled-barren, foolish,stupid...

Renu said...

Yes, now I have stopped believing that having kids makes u complete, no its ur complete outlook on life and the way u live it make u complete.

Balvinder Singh said...

After my transfer to calcutta in June 2005 i have been staying alone here. The reason of not getting my family here was that my kids were pursuing their studies at Delhi, my previous place of posting. I have hung a picture of my wife and my two sons on the wall. That is the most precious spot in my house and i call it bundle of joy because whenevr i look that side a smile is forced on my face. Yes, kids load you with responsibilities which may further give you worries but that is what life is. My wife and the youger son joined me here a month back to spend a few days with me. One night at twelve o' clock our door bell rang and we found the elder son standing at the door smiling at us. He said that he was missing the rest of the family so he caught the last flight and gave us a surprise. (Delhi -- Calcutta is no mean distance). My wife could not control her tears. That weekend, that we spent together was like a festival. Such is the bond of family.

Renu said...

Wow ! Nice to know a closeknit family. When my son was studying, he use to give me such pleasant surprises
Once you have the children, they are the most important persons in your life and they give you immense, unparalleled pleasure but also the sleepless nights,days full of worries, what with their education, health etc.

Balvinder Singh said...

In fact i have had regular quota of worries also. Even we gave the same to our parents. May be we are feeling them a little more because of the competitive world around us. Just read 'Deja Vu' written by me earlier in my blog.