Friday, May 18, 2007

Old Article On Parenting and Depression

Having children 'is bad for your mental health'
If you thought that the joys of watching your young ones grow up was one of life's simple pleasures, think again. Parenthood is actually bad for your mental health, according to the latest research.

George Clooney, the actor who famously vowed never to have children, seems destined to live a happier life than many of his Hollywood peers, according to a new report which found that parents suffer greater depression than people without children.
. . .
The results, which found parents experience "significantly higher levels of depression than non-parents", will please the likes of Clooney, who once bet his friends £10,000 he would remain childless because "it is such a great responsibility and there isn't anything in me that wants to replicate".
. . .
"What is most striking about these findings is that there is no type of parent that reports less depression than a non-parent," she said.
. . .
Ricky Gervais, the actor and writer, and his partner of 22 years, Jane Fallon, are one couple who are happy without children. "Selfishly, I couldn't face the three years of changing nappies and never going out - it was a conscious decision," he said. The actress, Dame Helen Mirren and husband, Taylor Hackford, an American film director, have never had children, despite more than 20 years of marriage. "I was never drawn to babies," she said. "I have never had any sense of loss about not having children, even though I could easily have had them."
I'm not quite sure why this article was peppered with celebrity references, but I thought I would take advantage of the fact that it was and post a link to the new celebrity portion of the childfree wiki.
But Clem Henricson, the director of research and policy at the National Family and Parenting Institute, a charity that provides support to parents, said that the study ignored the "host of positives" of parenting.

"While the arrival of a child produces a new dimension of responsibility, there is an obvious sense of pleasure and fulfilment that accompanies parenthood," she said. "Most parents would agree that bringing up the next generation is an enriching experience."

A spokesman for Parentline Plus, an independent support group for parents, said: "It is wrong to assume that having a child equals depression. While parents may have concerns about how good a job they are doing, most are parents because they enjoy it."
No, most parents are parents because they thought they would enjoy it. That decision is made prospectively, and irreversibly.

The researchers here were not "assuming" that having a child equals depression, they were conducting a study showing an increased likelihood. The other side is not finding flaw in the methodology, or conducting their own study - what exactly are they trying to accomplish by using the "is not" school of argument?

If they are trying to argue that having higher depression levels is still 'worth it' than say that. But that isn't really disputing the point of the study in any case. The study did not "ignore the host of positives", it focused on a discreet element of the human condition and studied it. I suppose that Mr. Henricson wouldn't be happy until science and academia takes a constant and unyielding backseat to the rhetoric of parenthood that has gripped the western world.

This article pre-dates the blog, but I thought it was worth posting.

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Anonymous said...

Brilliant points in that last couple paragraphs. Great post. LOVE your blog. Right on!!

Anonymous said...

I just reading the article makes my blood boil. Because I am a parent, to a 19 year old boy. A single parent. I Love my son so very much, but if i could go back 20 years, I would have been sterilised. Parenting is awful, just awful. I have no money, as I am on sick benefit, because I had two breakdowns. Though I am a educated woman, with a degree. Its hard to get employment now, as been out of the workforce 10 years. So am retraining now. The poverty, tiredness, lonliesness are dreadful. I am still a young woman, and luckily for me, I recovered after the breakdowns. There are NO ADVANTAGES to parenting. ALL the doctors, studies, its all lies, a kind of compensation for being stuck with a kid for twenty years. I ask you, with common sense, twenty years, of the same routine, every day, being like the last, come on. Who would. ANY BODY, considering becoming a parent, I urge you consider your motives, very carefully. Once baby arrives, you can't give it back, and you will forever be judged on your parenting skills. Goodness just watch supernanny. Jo does'nt have any kids, and in the newspaper interview she said she does not know if she wants them. Hang with your friends kids, or borrow one for a hour, but please do'nt do it. It is not worth it.