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parental misery

2006-01-06 16:03:14.735753+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

Stolen from Medley: Parents report being more miserable than non-parents.

But how can the findings stand? Politics, culture and history -- to say nothing of those annoying Baby Gap ads -- all reinforce the message that having children is the greatest pleasure in life.

Michael Lewis, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry and director of the Institute for the Study of Child Development at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., says that the idea of parenthood as pure joy "was always a bit of a wonderful myth." He said he's surprised the study findings were not even more negative.

Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression [pdf] was published in The Jounral of Health and Social Behavior.

So now's a good time to tell your parents how much you appreciate what they've done for you...

[ related topics: Psychology, Psychiatry and Personality Sociology Child-Freedom Archival ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-09 17:39:33.194105+00 by: Pete

Dan, ever see anything about happiness after age, say, 60, for breeders versus non-breeders? I haven't, but I'm curious to know if I've missed something.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-09 18:40:21.065428+00 by: Dan Lyke

I haven't, although that may be personal filtering because something is telling me that one of my email challengers on the child-freedom topic once brought up such a study that seemed completely at odds with my experiences with friends in that age range.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-09 19:51:04.529065+00 by: Diane Reese

The current Scientific American has an article that might be interesting, except I haven't been able to read it all yet (the online version is only a stub, and the household subscription copy exists in Cambridge, MA now, sigh). In it, they track the brain changes in maternal rats after their pregnancies. This is one of those studies I am eagerly looking forward to reading more about!

"Recent experiments have shown that mother rats outperform virgins in navigating mazes and capturing prey. In addition to motivating females toward caring for their offspring, the hormone-induced brain changes may enhance a mother rat's foraging abilities, giving her pups a better chance of survival. What is more, the cognitive benefits appear to be long-lasting, persisting until the mother rats enter old age."

Parenthood has been challenging for me, no doubt about it, but it's also been one of the most profoundly positive things I've ever done. I would never have called it one of my "greatest pleasures" but certainly one of my greatest satisfactions. I didn't have kids expecting to be spared mental illness, though, LOL! (Remember that old bumper sticker? "Insanity is contagious, I got it from my kids.") According to the Journal article linked above, once I'm an empty-nest parent, my odds of mental health will be even better!