Children Or No Children: Who’s Happier?
Parenting and paternity has its ups and downs. But are parents happier overall than single people?
According to a recent study, people with children have shown to be happier than people without children. Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, the University of British Columbia and Stanford University say parents are also happier during activities spent with their kids than during their other daily activities.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside, says, “We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning.”
“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 study also dovetails with emerging evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting is a fundamental human need.
These findings, which appear in Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science, are among a new wave of research that suggests that parenthood comes with relatively more positives, despite the added responsibilities.
Researcher Elizabeth Dunn says, “This series of studies suggest that parents are not nearly the ‘miserable creatures’ we might expect from recent studies and popular representations.”
“If you went to a large dinner party, our findings suggest that the parents in the room would be as happy or happier than those guests without children.”
Among the findings:
-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.
“Happy” is a complex construct, an ever-changing barometer, and the ultimate in subjective standards: you’re only as happy as you say you are.