New findings from a study in Psychological Science suggest that parents are not nearly the miserable creatures that we might expect from recent studies and popular representations in the media.
In fact, parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning in life than people without children, according to researchers from the University of California, Riverside, the University of British Columbia and Stanford University.
"We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning," explained UC Riverside psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky. "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."
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 lends weight to evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting is a fundamental human need.
Key findings from the study include:
"Our findings suggest that if you are older - and presumably more mature - and if you are married, then you're likely to be happier if you have children than your childless peers," Lyubomirsky said. "This is not true, however, for single parents or very young parents."
- Parents are happier when taking care of their children than while doing other daily activities.
- Fathers in particular expressed greater levels of happiness, positive emotion and meaning in life than their childless peers.
- Older and married parents tend to be the happiest.
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Source: University of California - Riverside