Kids use up our time and our money right? So they must subtract from our happiness!
But kids make us laugh and give us hugs right? So they must add to our happiness!
A recent article we happened to read said, “Scientific studies have found that having children does not increase happiness. In fact, experts say it has the opposite effect. The more children you have the less happy you are.”
Where do you come out on the question? Do kids make us happier or unhappier?
Here is the case for “unhappier:”
Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University wrote in Time magazine, “Studies reveal that most married couples start out happy and then become progressively less satisfied over the course of their lives, becoming especially disconsolate when their children are in diapers and in adolescence, and returning to their initial levels of happiness only after their children have had the decency to grow up and go away.”
Jennifer Senior, in an article last year in New York Magazine says, “Perhaps the most oft-cited datum comes from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prizewinning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among the endeavors they preferred: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework.) This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction. The economist Andrew Oswald, who’s compared tens of thousands of Britons with children to those without, is at least inclined to view his data in a more positive light: “The broad message is not that children make you less happy; it’s just that children don’t make you more happy.” That is, he tells me, unless you have more than one. “Then the studies show a more negative impact.” As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. But some of the studies are grimmer than others. Robin Simon, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, says parents are more depressed than nonparents no matter what their circumstanceswhether they’re single or married, whether they have one child or four.”
Children restrict freedom. Children require sacrifice. Children require work. Thus ends the case for “children make us unhappier.”
NOW, having done our due diligence for balance and fairness and presenting the other side, let us give you our side of the argument That children not only make us happier, but wiser, and clearer, and better!
Asking if kids add to our happiness is a little like asking if the sun adds to our light! The sun IS our light and without it we would be relying on candles. Children ARE our happiness and without them we would be relying on the hollow pursuit of pleasure or some kind of accomplishment fulfillment.
Is this to say that those without children cannot be happy? No! But it is to say that children contribute to the happiness of everyone whether they are our kids or not. And it is to say that children give us a kind of happiness (and a level of unselfish love) that is not available elsewhere.
The happiness that children give us comes in moments! Golden, glorious moments of wonder when we see something so cute, or so beautiful or so noble or so perfect that we can scarcely contain the joy.
And let’s give children even more credit than that. They not only teach us new and higher levels of love, but new levels of patience, of self-sacrifice, of discipline, and of empathy.
The simple fact is that we need them as much as they need us, and they teach us as much as we teach them.
Do kids make us happier every day in every way? No. Do they lift our happiness and sense of well-being to a consistently higher plane and relieve us from stress and worry and strain? No. But do they give to us moments of the highest, purest joy we can find in this life? Yes! A thousand times yes!