Do you find yourself smiling at other people’s kids as that walk by in the supermarket? Have you noted how your friends light up when talking about their little ones and wondered you’d glow like that with munchkins of your own? Well, studies out of University of California, Riverside, University British Columbia, and Stanford University suggest that “parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning in life than people without children.” The research will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science in a paper titled “In Defense of Parenthood: Children Are Associated With More Joy Than Misery.”

“We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning,” explained Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside and a leading scholar in positive psychology. “Contrary to repeated scholarly and media pronouncements, people may find solace that parenthood and child care may actually be linked to feelings of happiness and meaning in life.”

Paper co-authors are S. Katherine Nelson, a doctoral candidate at UCR; Kostadin Kushlev, a doctoral candidate at UBC; Tammy English, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford; and Elizabeth W. Dunn, associate professor of psychology at UBC.

The findings are among a new wave of research that suggests that parenthood comes with relatively more positives, despite the added responsibilities. The study also dovetails with emerging evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting is a fundamental human need.

Recent popular accounts have painted a portrait of unhappy parents who find little joy in taking care of their children, “but the scientific basis for these claims remains inconclusive,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers note that parents are happier when taking care of their children, that “Fathers in particular expressed greater levels of happiness, positive emotion and meaning in life than their childless peers,” and that older and married parents are the happiest.

Do you think having children will impact you happiness levels?

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  1. Candy 1

    I think it might be true for many people who wanted children in the first place, but not those who had did not. Having children does take me out of my own world and it gives me a reason to think outside of myself, and they are funny, adorable, and really good natured. Those sort of things increase my happiness. They aren’t the only people that increase my happiness, though.

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  2. E.M.S.

    Did my comment get deleted!? Sigh.

    I still stand by my opinion. I think there is not enough evidence to prove this is true. They ought to say the research suggests parenthood has the potential to make your happier, but not claim it’s absolute. I’m betting this study was not conducted with people who do not want children.

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  3. there are other ways to get happy besides having kids
    p.s. not having kids is not selfish. i notice people say that to people who dont have those responsiblities, well life is about choices, so if somebody chose to not have kids thats not selfish
    as for the maternal extinct , that’s why there is the big buddy program and orphanages

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  4. Not if you’re not ready for them. In fact it could do the opposite (make you miserable). As for me I absolutely adore my daughter and she has truly completed my life.

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  5. wepon1

    Back women want have kids, but fail to mention marriage first so that means its time “to lie and do what we want with our bodies”! This mentality has been going on since the 70’s! Please tell the man first before you decide to change and destroy his life with your own selfishness!

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