In Defense of Kids and Parenting: They Can Be Amazing (If That’s What You Want)

TIME:

It seems the latest trend in parenting is to bash it. Quite a few folks are getting attention for making the case that having kids makes your life worse—and they have some studies to support their argument. Parents report being more stressed, anxious and generally unsatisfied with their lives than singles. Me, I was never goo-goo-eyed about babies or tots. I was married seven years before I decided to have my first. Mostly, I felt ready (if scared) and wanted kids. I also believed that if I didn’t have them, I’d be missing out on one of life’s most profound experiences.

So, if people who choose kids are about as happy as those who choose none, why has there been such a spate of anti-parenthood press lately?  Part of the reason, says University of Mary Washington psychologist  Holly Schiffrin, author of the upcoming book, Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family, and Life, is the increasing expectations put on parents to make their kids smarter, happier and more successful. “Parenting,” she says, ” has become increasingly time-consuming and child-centered…. We urge parents to find the “sweet spot” where both their own needs and the needs of their children for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are being met to maintain everyone’s well-being.” If these become overwhelming, parenting can become more of a chore than a source of satisfaction.

Of course, life circumstances like marital conflict, financial strain, and emotional problems will affect the happiness of parents. It’s a hugely complex subject. But a soon to be published study by noted happiness theorist Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, Riverside, aims to clarify all the previous research on whether kids make us happier, even if it doesn’t finally settle the matter.

Read the whole story: TIME

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