Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parents are happier people: Parents experience greater happiness and meaning in life than nonparents, psychologists find

Date:
May 17, 2012
Source:
University of California - Riverside
Summary:
Contrary to recent scholarship and popular belief, parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning in life than people without children, according to researchers. 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.

Contrary to recent scholarship and popular belief, parents experience greater levels of happiness and meaning in life than people without children.
Credit: drubig-photo / Fotolia

Contrary to recent 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.

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.

"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."

Paper co-authors are S. Katherine Nelson, a doctoral candidate at UCR; Kostadin Kushlev, a doctoral candidate at UBC; Tammy English, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford; and Elizabeth W. Dunn, associate professor of psychology at UBC.

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.

The consistency of their findings across all three studies "provides strong evidence challenging the widely held perception that children are associated with reduced well-being.

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. This finding requires further study, Dunn noted, adding that "the pleasures of parenthood may be offset by the surge in responsibility and housework that arrives with motherhood."
  • Older and married parents tend to be the happiest. "Our findings suggest that if you are older (and presumably more mature) and if you are married (and presumably have more social and financial support), then you're likely to be happier if you have children than your childless peers," Lyubomirsky said. "This is not true, however, for single parents or very young parents."

As Dunn put it, "These findings suggest that parents are not nearly the miserable creatures that we might expect from recent studies and popular representations."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Riverside. The original article was written by Bettye Miller. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Riverside. "Parents are happier people: Parents experience greater happiness and meaning in life than nonparents, psychologists find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120517115446.htm>.
University of California - Riverside. (2012, May 17). Parents are happier people: Parents experience greater happiness and meaning in life than nonparents, psychologists find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120517115446.htm
University of California - Riverside. "Parents are happier people: Parents experience greater happiness and meaning in life than nonparents, psychologists find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120517115446.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins