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Older Couples With Kids Happier Than Those Without

By HERWriter
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older couples with children are happier than older couples without children iStockphoto/Thinkstock

One of the biggest decisions for women is whether to have children or not. Now that women have the ability in most areas of the world to make a choice about their lives, having children is not always the end goal anymore.

However, a new study suggests that deciding to have children could bring more happiness than living a childless life.

The paper is called “In Defense of Parenthood: Children Are Associated With More Joy Than Misery,” and will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science with research data from the United States and Canada, according to a press release from the University of California, Riverside.

“We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, in the press release.

“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.”

Although parenthood does come with many extra responsibilities and stress, the study suggests in many cases the happiness and joy experienced by being a parent outweighs those negatives. However, for certain groups this potential happiness can be limited.

For example, although the findings found that fathers tend to be happier, and felt more positive emotions and meaning in life than men without children, mothers appeared to have a more negative experience due to a combination of more housework and overall responsibility.

Also, it appears that for the most part, only older and married parents are the ones who are judged to be happier than childless people.

“Our findings suggest that if you are older (and presumably more mature) and if you are married (and presumably have more social and financial support), then you’re likely to be happier if you have children than your childless peers,” Lyubomirsky said in the press release. “This is not true, however, for single parents or very young parents.”

There are mixed feelings about the results of the study.

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EmpowHER Guest

Studies that say the "childless" -- whatever age, are less happy than parents have problems and should not be taken that seriously. They don’t take into account the reasons behind the non-parent status–which respondents were childLess--meaning those who want/wanted children but could not have them? Temporarily childLess--want them, just do not have them yet? Or childfree--do not want children? From interviewing hundreds of childfree and talking to hundreds more, I can say that the childfree are not more likely to be less happy than parents.

To lump everyone with no kids into a "childless" category is not a telling variable. Studies and articles that report on them that don’t include or speak to these variables continue to reinforce the pronatalist notion that having kids is what makes us happy in life, when the reality is this is just not true for everyone. So many other factors go into what it means when we say we are happy–kids are not "the" ticket for all -- when can we put the debate to rest on whether the happiness buck stops with kids? Laura Carroll, author, The Baby Matrix

May 24, 2012 - 2:38pm
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