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Turns Out, Parenthood Doesn’t Make You Happy

Lorraine Ali reported in Newsweek this week that a new study shows that parents aren’t as happy as non-parents.

What? You mean all those warm and fuzzy commercials for baby lotion, board games, and family trips are all lies? Or as Penelope Trunk calls it, “Mommy porn.”

Ali quoted me in the article from an interview we did via phone while I was watching my kids play Marco Polo in a hotel pool. I said, “If you admit that kids and parenthood aren’t making you happy, it’s basically blasphemy.” And then the angry commenters on Newsweek’s web site proved me right.

Ali, who appeared on The Today Show to talk about her article, wrote that children were an economic necessity in pre-industrial America “Today, we have kids more for emotional reasons, but an increasingly complicated work and social environment has made finding satisfaction far more difficult.”

Our bundles of joy are, what, now? Bundles of agony? Ali cites a 2005 study of 13,000 Americans by the National Survey of Families and Households, which found that no group of parents “reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children.”

No wonder my sister-in-law seems so content all the time. She’s well rested. After all, sleep deprivation is a form of torture. She’s also got more available cash. Ali cites the $200,000+ it costs to raise a child as an additional burden on parents, not to mention our tendency to marry later. “This means the experience of raising kids is now competing with highs in a parent’s past, like career wins (‘I got a raise!’) or a carefree social life (‘God, this is a great martini!’). Shuttling cranky kids to school or dashing to work with spit-up on your favorite sweater doesn’t skew as romantic.”

Romantic, like those baby lotion commercials.

View study here.

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