“Parents experience lower levels of emotional well being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers,” according to Robin Simon, a researcher at Florida State University. In fact, when 13,000 Americans were polled the findings show that people who never had children reported “significantly greater emotional well-being” than people with children, even empty-nesters.
What’s up with that?
When I think back to my single days I was happy! It was so fun to go out with my girlfriends, eat out, travel extensively, eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (which was mainly Lean Cuisine microwave dinners), devote myself to my career at the Star Tribune, and do something fun at the drop of a hat. I didn’t have to delay gratification. I had so much freedom. I had so much fun.
Fast forward to days with two children, one in middle school and one in high school, and many of those freedoms are gone. It’s so much harder to get together with girlfriends, eating out with 4 is rare due to the expense, we take two family vacations per year, we have to prepare hundreds of balanced meals each year (no more Lean Cuisine!) my career fits around our family’s needs and spontaneity has been largely squashed from coordinating four people’s lives rather than just my own.
Despite that. I’m still happy but in a different way. Where do I find happiness now? Feeling deeply connected emotionally to our kids, snuggling with them, having a great conversation with them, pursuing passions of my own (at least on a limited basis), getting out with my husband once in awhile, connecting occasionally with girlfriends, fulfilling my mission of helping create happier, more peaceful families with parents I work with.
I guess this form of happiness feels more mature, more meaningful and more enduring.
How about you? Do you think you were happier without kids or are you happier now?
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