Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kids are supposed to bring joy. So why are parents so unhappy?

Bundle of Trouble
Americans harbor a widespread, deeply held belief that no adult can be happy without becoming a parent. Parenthood, we think, is pivotal for developing and maintaining emotional well-being, and children are an essential ingredient for a life filled with happiness, joy, excitement, satisfaction, and pride.

That’s not exactly the case.
. . .
The disconnect lies in the social conditions in which Americans now parent; they’re far from ideal for allowing parents to reap the emotional benefits of having children. Parents cope with stressors that cancel out and often exceed the emotional rewards of having children. Making matters worse, parents and others perceive the strain as a private matter and a reflection of their inability to cope with the “normal” demands of parenthood.
. . .
Of equal importance is the need to take stock of and reevaluate existing cultural beliefs that children improve the emotional health and well-being of adults. These cultural beliefs—and our expectation that children guarantee a life filled with happiness, joy, excitement, contentment, satisfaction, and pride—are an additional, though hidden, source of stress for all parents. The feelings of depression and emotional distress that parents experience can cause them to question what they’re doing wrong.
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6 comments:

Nursedude said...

Laura, I think it depends on the individual. I could not imagine my life without my kids(who are now 21 and 17). It IS a helluva lot of work. I think people do need a realistic view about the whole parenthood thing. It is clearly not for everybody. It is not an instant gratification thing. I think people who choose to be child free should not get any grief like there is something wrong with him. That said, just because somebody decides to have kids, that does not mean that you have thrown your life down the crapper, either.Sometimes circumstance steps in. My son and his fiancee did not plan on having a baby. They are making the best of a tough situation, but people like my son show that there is a third way,between people like me, who really wanted to be a parent, people like you, who chose to be child free, and people like my son, who messed up on birth control. Anyway, it's good food for thought, and have a good week.

Anonymous said...

another nice article from UTNE: http://www.utne.com/2002-07-01/to-have-or-not-to-have.aspx

Anonymous said...

another nice article from UTNE: http://www.utne.com/2002-07-01/to-have-or-not-to-have.aspx

S2 said...

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Anonymous said...

Part of why parents are unhappy is because breeding used to be integrated into the larger society. Kids could be put to work. They had an obligation to be useful in a family and community, not just demanding consumers of goods, services, and attention.

If I'd ever had kids, my life WOULD have gone down the crapper. I can't stand them. I couldn't stand them when I was a kid. I always preferred the company of adults. The idea of having to pander 24/7 to a shrieking bundle of neediness under the surveillance cameras of postmodern society is as close to an insane asylum as I ever want to get.

Ecto

lvetodaylez said...

I read that article at school and couldn't help but smile.