Q&A: Are Parents Less Happy Than Non-Parents?

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"See, parents are like pickles. No matter what happens they can't go back to being cucumbers. Cukes can't understand what it's like being a pickle, & pickles can't quite explain it." - Yosi (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Are parents less happy than non-parents? … New York magazine recently published an article, “All Joy and No Fun: Why parents hate parenting.” Western MA parents respond:

  • Sylva Menard wrote: Read the first page or two, really not agreeing with it. Yes, my husband and I both agree that kids add complexity to life, but a completely welcome complexity and happiness.
  • Lisa Roberge wrote: I don’t even have to read this to respond. I am a 38 year-old single mother of a 2 year old, I work 30 hours a week, I live paycheck to paycheck, and while sometimes I miss going to concerts and getting enough sleep, I am completely, 100% a million times happier than I was before I became a parent. Sow your wild oats before you have kids and you won’t miss a thing.
  • Diane Hinze Kanzler wrote: I read the entire article. Fascinating. And ouch. It hits home on some points. On other points, not at all.
  • Amanda Lebrecht Saklad wrote: I think people have ideas of what life is supposed to be like with kids and yes, there ARE moments of unhappiness, but in this world of ‘gotta have it NOW/selfishness – kids make us stop and see the small stuff (“Hey Mommy! Look at this BUG!”) and realize that we have to wait a while (sometimes a LONG while) before we see the fruits of our parenting labor. Life is what you make it. Relax and enjoy it. And no, I didn’t read more than the first page.
  • Yosi Levin wrote: See, parents are like pickles. No matter what happens they can’t go back to being cucumbers. Cukes can’t understand what it’s like being a pickle, & pickles can’t quite explain it.
  • Liz Friedman wrote: I read the article all the way thru. I didn’t agree with her or the research on my personal relationship to parenthood or my life satisfaction from having children, but I thought that the stories of how real parents ( like all of us) struggle with the challenges inherent in parenting in a country that has virtually no infrastructure to support parenting (in a world where most other countries have figured out the basics like paid maternity/paternity leave, etc ) was eye opening. It is shocking to look at the statistics of how families suffer economically and emotionally because we do not have basic supports to do this essential and important job of parenting. One example is that postpartum depression rates are higher here in the US then in countries with these basic supports built in.
  • Elizabeth Maxey wrote: The end of the article was the most interesting, and, I think, spot on. Parenting is stressful, yes, but I feel much more *content* than I did in my childless past simply because my life as a parent is, undeniably, a life of purpose. Once studies try to differentiate between “fun” and more complex forms of satisfaction, they get a little closer to the reality of parenthood.
  • Sylva Menard wrote: Blog post on this topic: Grin and bear it? Parenting, happiness and the pressure cooker.

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