Being a mom/parent come with its challenges. Anyone who is a parent knows that and will be sure to tell those that are expecting that “life is about to change.” It’s true, but overall isn’t it for the better?
That’s what a recent study titled “The Increasing Happiness of Parents” pondered: Are adults happier as parents than non-parents? This isn’t the first study of this kind, but the results of this study are different than those in the past. This study adjusted some variables, such as how a parent is defined as to include parents that adopt, realtives and step-children who may raise children without biologically creating them.
What the researchers found is that in general adults are getting grumpier, however, parents seems to be maintaining a higher level of happiness compared to those who don’t have kids. In general I find these studies to be pretty odd and hard to really quantify when you’re talking about emotions that wax and wane. Plus happiness as a parent, in my experience, can change during ages and stages. I remember loving my baby, but can’t say I was exactly “happy” when I was getting up three times in the middle of the night and dealing with postpartum. Now, however, he is one of the biggest, strongest beams of light in my life, and that makes me feel happy.
I find that even on the worst days, coming home to my energetic 4-year-old perks me up with his curious questions and anecdotes that make me laugh. In addition, as my child gets older, my social circles are expanding. With his new friends, I make new acquaintances and new opportunities for different kinds of fun are opening up, something the researchers also found in comparing the parents to nonparents – kids help keep parents young and engaged in new things.
It’s also worth mentioning that this study took into account economic factors for today’s parent too. Many parents are having children later and often have lesser financial strains, and people are choosing to be a parent not based on societal pressure to do so, which indicates a desire for children, not just an outcome. Overall the researchers found that parents as a demographic look a lot different than the pool of parents that made up my parents generation.