Good News for Families: Parents are Happier than Non-Parents After All.

FROM THE ATLANIC.  Since the 1980s, economists and psychologists have been aware of a “parental happiness gap.” Basically, the running theory has been that p

But Chris Herbst of Arizona State University and John Ifcher of Santa Clara University noticed some weaknesses in earlier studies on the phenomenon. Why did the studies always treat the happiness gap as a constant? Also, why was the word parents always defined as people whose egg and sperm had met and created a child? This excluded a segment of society who chose to have children: adoptive parents, step-parents, relatives who take in children—non-biological parents who willingly (and many times, happily) take in children to raise because they want to and, perhaps, find joy in having kids around.arents are a less happy bunch than their non-parenting peers. This makes some sense: After all,parents have a lot on their plates—changing diapers, getting their kids into the right schools, keeping their vaccinations up to date—and rarely have time to just relax and enjoy themselves.

So Herbst and Ifcher turned to two surveys (the General Social Survey and theDDB Worldwide Communications Life Style Survey) to re-examine parental happiness

by looking at both happiness trends and expanding the definition of “parents” to include any adult who has a non-adult living under the same roof.

Their results, appearing in a study titled “The Increasing Happiness of Parents,”challenge previous research on parental happiness: While parents appear t

o remain just as happy as they did back in the 1980s, the happiness of non-parents has fallen. This means that, today, parents are happier relative to non-parents—a shift from previous evidence.

Ifcher explained the results this way: “What we believe is going on is that there is a general negative trend in happiness among adults—[but] that negative trend is not happening for parents.” Adults seem to be getting grumpier as a whole, but parents are bucking that general trend.

The findings stay “sturdy” even in the face of common tough childrearing times, such as the terrible twos and adolescent angst, surprising Herbst and Ifcher.

“Parents with young kids of any age are becoming happier than non-parents,” Herbst told me. “It doesn’t matter how old the child is in the household: Parents with kids in any of these age groups are becoming happier.”  READ MORE

If you’d like more information on being a happier, more effective parent, check out, Parenting with Grace:  The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids!  


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