From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published May 18, 2012 12:20 PM

Happy, Happy Parents!

Raising a family can be a difficult matter. But does it make one happy or miserable? Of course part of the answer is that it depends... Contrary to some scholarship and popular belief, parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning in life than people without children, according to researchers from the University of California, Riverside, the University of British Columbia and Stanford University. Parents also are happier during the day when they are caring for their children than during their other daily activities, the researchers found in a series of studies conducted in the United States and Canada.

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These findings appear in a paper — In Defense of Parenthood: Children Are Associated With More Joy Than Misery — which will be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In human context is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children. Anthropologists most generally classify family organization as matrilocal (a mother and her children); conjugal (a wife, husband, and children, also called nuclear family); and consanguinal (also called an extended family) in which parents and children co-reside with other members of one parent's family.

"We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning," explained Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC Riverside and a leading scholar in positive psychology. "Contrary to repeated scholarly and media pronouncements, people may find solace that parenthood and child care may actually be linked to feelings of happiness and meaning in life."

The findings are among a new wave of research that suggests that parenthood comes with relatively more positives, despite the added responsibilities. The study also dovetails with emerging evolutionary perspectives that suggest parenting is a fundamental human need.

Recent popular accounts have painted a portrait of unhappy parents who find little joy in taking care of their children, "but the scientific basis for these claims remains inconclusive," the researchers wrote.

"If you went to a large dinner party, the parents in the room would be just as happy or happier than the guests without children," Dunn said.

The researchers conducted three studies that tested whether parents are happier overall than their childless peers, if parents feel better moment-to-moment than nonparents, and whether parents experience more positive feelings when taking care of children than during their other daily activities.

Among the findings:

Parents are happier when taking care of their children than while doing other daily activities.

Fathers in particular expressed greater levels of happiness, positive emotion and meaning in life than their childless peers.

Older and married parents tend to be the happiest.

For further information see Happy Parents.

Happy image via Wikipedia.

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