A New Study Says Parents Are Miserable

September 29, 2015  |  

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We parents always delight about our ‘little blessings’ to each other and how our lives would be so different without them, but we also know what a pain in the butt is it to be a mom. Honestly.

Word is, someone out there agrees and this study says parents are miserable.

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research wanted to figure out why some families decide to stop at having only one child. So they analyzed data from a German survey that covered more than 20,000 people across the country, and tracked their reported well-being from three years before having kids to at least two years after their first child was born.

They found that people are usually pretty happy before having kids. That happiness goes up when anticipating the birth of their first child (all those celebrations and “congratulations” wishes can really take you far) and stays high during the year their first child is born. After that, everything goes downhill.

According to the Washington Post, 30 percent of parents stayed at the same level of happiness. But on a 1 to 10 scale, 37 percent of parents had a one-unit drop in “happiness units,” while 19 percent had a two-unit drop and 17 percent had a three-unit drop.

To compare that to actual sad life events: Unemployment and the death of a partner usually lead to a one-unit drop in happiness, and divorce only causes a 0.6-unit drop. On average, parenthood leads to a whopping 1.4-unit fall in happiness.

But what does that say about people who only drop one-unit when their partner dies?

 

What was found in the study, published in the journal Demography, is that unhappiness stemmed from three main causes: health issues before and after birth, complications during the birth, and the generally exhausting and physically taxing task of raising a child.

The researchers also found that parents’ experiences and emotional states when they have their first child strongly impact whether or not they’ll go on to have more kids. If you stay happy more than a year after your first child is born, you’re more likely to have baby number 2. (Which makes sense: Why keep doing something that makes you unhappy?)

Older parents, and those with higher levels of education, were more likely to stop at one child if they had a bad experience.

That leads us to also wonder: why do people have kids in the first place? Is it pressure from families or society? Or are they trying to fill a void within themselves?

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