Sisterhood Blog

Kids and the Happiness Factor

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

For a few years there, it seemed like everything published about parenting was about how miserable it made you. This collective freakout was largely sparked by a 2010 story in New York magazine called “Why Parents Hate Parenting,” by Jennifer Senior, which centered on a study that showed that childcare ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of 19 activities.

I was a bit freaked out by all this. I mean, happiness wasn’t the motivating force behind my desire for kids, but I sure hoped it would be one of the outcomes. And not just occasionally. Well now the freak out has ended thanks to a new study that tells us that kids do in fact make us happier.

In an interview with NPR, happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of the new book “The Myths of Happiness,” talked about how she read the study that Senior referred to in her piece and felt like something was off. She said that she noticed that people reported that they were happiest when having sex, but didn’t report having sex very often. So, yes, she reasoned, they were happier when having sex than they were when taking care of their children, but this didn’t necessarily mean that sex gave them more overall happiness.

And so she did a some poking around of her own and discovered what many of us suspected or knew intuitively, that kids do bring us happiness. Or, as she put it, parents are actually happier than non-parents. This might not be the case on a moment-to-moment level, but it is true on a larger “you’re 46 and on a train and looking back at your life” level.

Considering I decided to bite the bullet and have a kid anyway — despite the cloud of potential misery looming in my mind during my 10 months of pregnancy — hearing these findings on NPR gave me a some relief. Yes, partially because it told me I would, in fact, be happier. But more so because it helped me realize that thinking about parenting as something that only exists on a happy/sad axis is kind of a waste of my time.

I am new to this whole parenting thing, but I can already tell that the experience is far messier and richer than I could have ever imagined. When friends ask me how it is to be a parent, I literally them it is everything. Because it is.

Spending my days contemplating whether or not being a parent is making me happier will undoubtedly flatten the whole experience, like trying to paint the sky with one shade of blue.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.