Another Post on Children and Happiness

I previously posted about research that purported to show that childless couples are happier than couples with children. In that post, I concluded that "Parenting is hard stuff. It can be very unpleasant at times. It can be boring at times. But, parenting (and loving) a child does give life meaning--and yes, deep happiness as well." Rod Dreher makes a similar point in a post that is worth reading:

By the time I got married, I was really sick of being single, and I didn't regret one bit giving up the autonomy of bachelorhood. Impending fatherhood, though, made me nervous. My sister, who married and started her family long before I did, told me not long before our first child was born,

"You and Julie are going to lose a lot. You won't be able to go do all the things you like to do now. You're either not going to have the time, or the money, or the energy. That part of your life is over now, and there's no sugarcoating it. But what you don't know is that another part is about to start. You really can't know what it's like to spend an entire Friday evening at home, just staring at your new baby, and to be happier than you ever imagined you could be. I can tell you this is going to happen to you, and you might believe me or you might not. But once you've lived it, you'll know what I mean."

So I lived it. I know exactly what she means. Now, with three kids of my own and 10 years of marriage behind me, I tell friends who are single, or who are married and contemplating children, that they really can't prepare for it. Both experiences are so life-changing that it's really hard to make someone who hasn't gone through it understand how much it alters your daily life. But if you go into both experiences with the right spirit, what you lose in terms of personal mobility and individual freedom will more than be made up for in the joy you receive back.

If you conceive perfect happiness as a constant state of maximized choice, then there's no way a spouse of children can be anything but a burden. But that's no way to conceive happiness.

Read it all here. Read a Newsweek article on the topic that started all this discussion here.


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