Thursday, July 15, 2010

Parents are less happy than non-Parents, but why?

All Joy and No Fun, is an article discussing the effect of parenthood on people's well-being. Although many studies show that, statistically, people with children are not as happy as (and more stressed than) their childfree counterparts, I would like to make two points:

1. It depends on where you live:
One of the things he noticed is that countries with stronger welfare systems produce more children—and happier parents.

Of course, this should not be a surprise. If you are no longer fretting about spending too little time with your children after they’re born (because you have a year of paid maternity leave), if you’re no longer anxious about finding affordable child care once you go back to work (because the state subsidizes it), if you’re no longer wondering how to pay for your children’s education and health care (because they’re free)—well, it stands to reason that your own mental health would improve. When Kahneman and his colleagues did another version of his survey of working women, this time comparing those in Columbus, Ohio, to those in Rennes, France, the French sample enjoyed child care a good deal more than its American counterpart. “We’ve put all this energy into being perfect parents,” says Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, “instead of political change that would make family life better.”

And, I completely agree that the US would be a much more child-friendly place if parents weren't getting by on the skin of their teeth (financially, emotionally, physically and mentally).


2. Statistics don't matter to the individual

Do I think that parents sometimes often overstate the joys of having children? Yes, but likely because they honestly believe it, and believe that all the toiling and frustrations are rewarding. I expect that they will be rewarding (or at least I'm hoping they are!).

Do I expect having a child will be a lot of stress? Yes. Will it frustrate both partners? Yes. Are we prepared for it? As much as we can be, which probably means no, lol.

Overall, however, I think that I am fortunate to be with someone who is patient, works with me to compromise, and who understands that some things are just not worth stressing over. Certainly children can have genetic predispositions towards certain behaviors, but nurture can still make a heck of a difference in triggering those reactions.

As we near the half-way point of this pregnancy, I hope that I am learning how to be more moderate, and patient, and with any luck, that will make all the difference - for all you skeptics (myself included), I'll let you know how it turns out.

I heard this the other day and really liked it, as it applied to being a parent:

"I did the best I could, for who I was at the time."

That's the kicker, though, isn't it? To remember to do the best we can, and not give up or give in.


Unknown said...

I've been enjoying reading your blog, and love that quote. It totally applies to everything in life.

mathbionerd said...

Thanks :)

I totally agree!