Dec. 1, 2021

Does Having Kids Make Us Happy?

Studies show an uncertain connection between becoming a parent and increased pleasure, so asking whether having kids makes us happy is complicated– and might not be the point. What are parenting’s rewards? What can we do to raise happiness levels?

The world wants us to believe that having kids will bring us untold happiness. It's a love you've never known! Your life will never be the same! The reality is a little more complicated, and that can be quite confusing. As psychologist Jean Twenge points out, "Parents might believe that it's their fault when the transition to parenthood is difficult, rather than seeing it as something that everyone experiences."

So: does having kids make us happy? Is that even the right question? Is it supposed to? Are the benefits that come from parenting different, and perhaps larger, than happiness?

Here are links to some writing and studies on the topic that we discuss in this episode: 

Paul Bloom for The Atlantic: What Becoming a Parent Really Does to Your Happiness

Dan Kahneman et al: A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: the day reconstruction method

Roudi Nazarina Roy et al: Effects of Expected and Perceived Division of Childcare and Household Labor on Mother’s Relationship Satisfaction during Their Transition to Parenthood

E.E. LeMasters: Parenthood as Crisis

M. Luhmann et al: Subjective well-being and adaptation to life events: A meta-analysis. 

Jay Belsky et al: Patterns of Marital Change across the Transition to Parenthood: Pregnancy to Three Years Postpartum

Jean M. Twenge et al: Parenthood and Marital Satisfaction: A Meta-Analytic Review

Rainer Maria Rilke: “Go To The Limits of Your Longing”

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