Having Kids Makes People Happier (Science Says So)

little girl playingAlright, Mom. How many times during your pregnancy did someone cluck their tongue and tell you to "enjoy it while you can because baby is going to change everything?" Ten? Twenty? One hundred twenty? Conventional wisdom for a long, long time has been that kids ruin your life, and being a parent means being unhappy.

Well, guess what. Conventional wisdom is wrong.

But don't take our word for it!


Researchers Chris Herbst of Arizona State University and John Ifcher of Santa Clara University have taken a look at all the studies on parents and happiness, and they've found a big ol' flaw. Turns out most studies focused solely on a man and a woman making a baby via traditional (aka sexual) means. Never did anyone take into account phenomena such as adoption, fostering, marriage ... etc.

You know, people who 100 percent go into parenting WANTING a child? That WOULD up the rate of parents being happy with their situation, wouldn't it?

It all comes down to statistics. When you have a smaller pool of people, the bad apples have a much bigger chance of spoiling the bunch. A bigger pool means a bigger majority of happy parents. Presto, change-o, no more "having kids will make you miserable." In fact, Herbst and Ifcher concluded parents are happier than non-parents by leaps and bounds.

But here's the other thing this study tells us: if you go into parenting because you want to become parents, then it seems you run a much lower risk of being unhappy. Again, it makes sense. Give a kid the lollipop they want, and the chance of them throwing it on the ground and crying that it was yucky is reduced, right?

Give a grown adult what they ask for, and they're much less likely to get upset and declare it all a disaster.

Yes, even kids.

Let's flip it: you want kids, you get kids, so you're happy you got what you wanted, right?

Which begs the question ... why is it parents care so much about what everyone else thinks kids will do to them? Why do we let people freak us out?

We're grown-ups! We should know by now what it is that makes us sad, mad, glad and all the rest. We should know our limitations, our triggers ...

And we should get all that figured out ... before we decide to make a baby. We're willing to bet THAT'S what would save the world a whole lot of unhappiness.

On the other hand, if you're miserable because you're a parent, well ... you only have yourself to blame ... not the kids.

What do you think? Do your kids make you "unhappy?"


Image via Wynand Strydom/Flickr


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