Another article on parenting recently caught my eye and has had me pondering. It’s entitled “All Joy & No Fun—Why Parents Hate Parenting” and it recently appeared in New York magazine.
With a title like that, how could it not catch your eye? Especially if you’re a busy working mom with three kids born within 3.5 years of each other, who are all now old enough to give you lip but not old enough to drive themselves to their many different activities and sports practices, or to remember to brush their teeth! So before I even got started reading it, I wondered whether it would resonate with me. I can’t say it’s all roses around here all the time.
The article starts out with a series of statistics from a number of studies, all of which conclude that having children does not make you happier. So why do people choose to do something that, while good for the preservation of the human race, does not help them individually? (Reading the comments on the article on nymag.com, I was amazed by how many people were sharing—or is that admitting—that they didn’t want to have kids as they enjoyed their life just as it was and even having houseplants was too much of a commitment.)
But perhaps, the article goes on to say, we once did enjoy parenting (after all, having children was more of an economic asset as they could help around the farm). Today, the experience of raising children has fundamentally changed.
Reasons for this change include the pressure of (parentally-supervised) homework, lack of extended family nearby to help out, and too many organized activities. (Just as I was writing this, I came across another very interesting article on children and competitive sports and the impact on family time which referred to the Youth Sports Arms Race—need we say more). As one mom is quoted about parenting today: “There are just. So. Many. Chores.” Another reason given is the abundance of choices parents have to make today, starting from the variety of sleep-training methods and organic diapers to $1,000 strollers.
It’s not all bad news though, and the article concludes by sharing some thoughts on studies which correlate ‘purpose’ with happiness. Parents are less likely to experience the ‘moment-to-moment’ happiness but also less likely to experience regret for things they have not done and more likely to experience a deep sense of gratification and delights.
If you read it, I would love to know what you thought.