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  • Article: Does having children make you happy?

    This article in Newsweek says that having children isn't necessarily going to make you happy; in fact, it might make you a little bit less happy.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/143792

    Obviously not many parents would ever say something like, "having a child makes my life a terrible, depressing mess." However, increased stress levels, parenting difficulties and a host of other factors have to make some sort of a negative impression upon a person's life. Hell, my best friend was crazy worried that something was wrong with his 1-month old because the baby had projectile vomit for the first time a few weeks ago. Every so often during the day he'd wonder aloud if something was wrong with the baby, to which I replied, "Dude, he's a baby, that's what they do. Eat, sleep and vomit."

    Some very interesting points the article touches on. Many things you see in the media today concerning children seems to say that having a baby will make your family extremely happy. It's also the "normal" course of life and relationships; it's a very social thing that everyone has a baby. I was walking out of a store last week and I swear that everywhere I looked was a parent with a child in tow or in a stroller- quite a few of these people being a lot younger than myself (I'm 29). I believe that there definitely is tremendous social pressure to have a child; what's one of the first things a newly married couple is asked by friends, parents and (especially) grandparents? "So when are you going to have a baby?" The article makes a point that there are big emotional reasons to have children these days. I can see that, as a lot of my co-workers and friends "want babies, and lots of them"; they want (big) families to have people to love and take care of, which I suppose fits into the social norm bit. In contrast, children of several decades ago were extra help on the farm or in the household, there was more of a "purpose" to having children around other than simply wanting them.

    It's also quite expensive to raise a child. The article estimates that it takes $134,370 to $237,520 to get a kid from birth to age 17, which doesn't include schooling or college tuition. I know a lot of people fret about sending their kids to college, and I feel sympathy for anyone having that ordeal in the face of ever-rising costs. Trying to get money for everything from pencils and soccer club to $500 college books can't add much, if anything, a parent's happy level.

    Speaking personally, my life seems okay to this point. I'm 29, single, never been married. I don't want children whatsoever because of two reasons. First, children scare the hell out of me. Not in the manner that seeing one causes me to flee in fear (kids are actually quite entertaining), but I'm always scared they'll get seriously hurt or something. Second, I just plain will never want that amount of responsibility. Sure, I help supervise over 80 employees and oversee 6 computer facilities, but raising a child is just a level of personal responsibility that I'll never desire. Not wanting children will make marriage hard, seeing as how I've met a grand total of two women that said they don't want kids, but if I do manage it that's a lot of time I'd have for myself and my wife without having to plan every moment around a child. I can't say for sure that it'd be a happier existence than if children were involved, but it certainly seems much more stress free- which is on the road to happiness.

    What do you guys think, parents and non-parents alike? How stressful do/will your children make your life and your relationship with your partner? If you have kids, how different do you think things would be if you hadn't? If you don't, what positive and negative changes do you foresee to your life? How much of this raising a family thing is pressure from society rather than a real desire for something you've always wanted?
    [squadl]
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  • #2
    Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

    while it does change every aspect of your life, having children is extremely rewarding. Yes, there is an innate fear of injury or loss, but watching your 9 yr old daughter teach a dance that she choreographed herself to 8 other 9-11 yr olds is a very proud moment. Nurturing the ambitions, hopes, dreams, and passions in a life and watching those come to life is awe inspiring. Then you look back and remember the 2 mo old who slept on your chest every night and wonder how she got to be 4.5 ft tall overnight. My children are the reason I strive to be a better person. You will find more joy in raising a child than any other venture you can undertake. I think that raising a child CORRECTLY (i.e. not listening to every fad parenting scheme or being a pushover to spoil them) gives you satisfaction. To see your child becoming an adult with morals, character, ideals, and values - not to mention intelligence, will, drive, ambition, and love - is a singularly wonderful experience, which I would trade for nothing in this world.
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    • #3
      Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

      Do they make me happier over all? Nope. Often they do the exact opposite. They whine, cry, fight, break things, take up your time when you would rather be doing something fun. You get less sleep and you end up watching lame cartoons on the tube when what you really want to watch is the game.

      You are constantly worried about them getting sick or doing poorly in school. When they do something bad in public you feel ashamed. And they WILL do something bad in public.

      ****ty diapers are not fun. You spend tons of money on them and see nothing returned for it. Children are manipulative, selfish little creatures.

      But raising children is very rewarding. They bring moments of joy that cannot be matched by anything else in the world. Considering that our lives are pretty much worthless in the grand scheme of things those two things are enough to make it worth it overall.

      Happiness isn't everything.
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      • #4
        Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

        The most stable social group is a diad -- two people. Adding a 3rd makes the relationship inherently less stable. Usually its an issue of the male competing with the child for attention from the female.

        For some couples that may totally thrilled to have a child, children might improve the relationship. In most cases its added tension.

        PS
        Selling child on ebay for much monies may improve relationship.
        |TG|Switch

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        • #5
          Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

          I rather enjoy being a father. My 9 month old daughter is a joy to spend time with and as stated above is also a source of stress. My wife and I, however, enjoy the challenge and accept that our lives changed and that it is up to us to make the most of it.

          If youíre not up for a real challenge do not have children.

          Sarcoma
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          • #6
            Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

            I love my cat. Caring for her is still a fair amount of work. (Even if it's not on the scale of a kid and/or a wife.) We're wired to get very attached to our dependents, even if they're a PITA. Given the choice, I'd prefer not to get a dependent in the first place.
            Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

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            • #7
              Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

              I could care less if they make me happy or not. I want them for two reasons:
              1. After seeing all the horrible things ive seen in the hospital, I've become keenly aware of how short life is. I've always mused at the prospect of being a father and I'd certainly like to have the opportunity to do so before my time runs out.
              2. Every delivery I've witnessed, every parent i've ever talked to, every grandparent i've ever met has said that that first instant where you hold your newborn child makes any amount of aggravation and frustration you experience from them in the years to come worth it. I'd like to experience that kind of sheer joy.

              In addition to both of those, I just think i'd be a damn good dad.

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              • #8
                Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

                frustrating, but i think I am happier now then before I had elizabeth. Staying home and raising her has been very rewarding and fun. I smile, laugh and have fun more than I used to. .. of course, not working at the schools I used to work at might be a factor.

                But she is the best thing after my wife that has happened to me.
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                • #9
                  Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

                  Being an uncle makes me happy. I have all the fun with zero responsibility. It's really a great position to be in if you don't want children. I have all kinds of fun with my nephews: playing video games, watching movies, DisneyLand, bowling, generally craziness. I don't have to wipe any ass other than my own, no diaper changes, no toys in my home to step on, no having to pay for college, no having to worry if someone falls out of a window, none of it. I have the good time and hand them back over to my brother. It's a blessing.

                  I really don't know how my brother and his wife raise two boys. I guess if your a parent your just in survival mode like some kind of shark moving forward.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

                    I've always wanted to have kids, it's not a social thing for me. In addition to all the other reasons listed, there's my atheism. I view raising a child into a good person, trying to teach them the lessons I've learned and helping them avoid pitfalls, as a continuation of my life, a Me 2.0, essentially the closest thing I have to the prospect of an afterlife.

                    I won't live forever, but maybe an improved half-me or two can carry on my 'tradition' or whatever you'd want to call it.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

                      Originally posted by =DdogG= View Post
                      You will find more joy in raising a child than any other venture you can undertake.
                      Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
                      But raising children is very rewarding. They bring moments of joy that cannot be matched by anything else in the world. Considering that our lives are pretty much worthless in the grand scheme of things those two things are enough to make it worth it overall.

                      Happiness isn't everything.
                      For me, happiness IS everything. And simple things like seeing my son smile make me happy as a clam. It's absolutely amazing how one small thing like spending a few minutes watching him laugh his ass off while playing the PS3 can make up for all the headaches he gave me the last couple of days... It really is simply indescribable. I would do just about anything for my son.

                      Originally posted by Ddogg
                      I think that raising a child CORRECTLY (i.e. not listening to every fad parenting scheme or being a pushover to spoil them) gives you satisfaction. To see your child becoming an adult with morals, character, ideals, and values - not to mention intelligence, will, drive, ambition, and love - is a singularly wonderful experience, which I would trade for nothing in this world.
                      Originally posted by Karkianman101 View Post
                      I've always wanted to have kids, it's not a social thing for me. In addition to all the other reasons listed, there's my atheism. I view raising a child into a good person, trying to teach them the lessons I've learned and helping them avoid pitfalls, as a continuation of my life, a Me 2.0, essentially the closest thing I have to the prospect of an afterlife.

                      I won't live forever, but maybe an improved half-me or two can carry on my 'tradition' or whatever you'd want to call it.
                      Y'know, lots of people want a son to carry on their family name. That never mattered to me. But now, seeing how I get to mold my son's entire life, I realize that there's some sort of inherent need for us to procreate. We want to leave a little bit of ourselves in this world when we're gone. It's not rational, but it's there. Probably some sort of weird chemical reaction in our body, like the chemicals involved in romantic love, only more subtle. Whatever it is, the desire to have a mini-me is there, and I never expected it to be...
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                      • #12
                        Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

                        Having kids makes me really, really happy. Even when they are being really difficult to live with, I've NEVER thought "Man, I'd be so much happier without them around" or "Jeeze I wish I hadn't had kids". OMG, no way.

                        My only regret is that I didn't get my wife pregnant one more time before she said "no more"...

                        The thought of not having any more children never makes me happy, and sometimes makes me feel very, very unhappy.

                        I've wanted to get married and have kids since I was little.

                        The kind of bean-counting that seems to be used to do a cost/benefit analysis of having children is quite soulless, and really doesn't take into account a myriad of seemingly small, but hugely important factors that add up when you are actually experiencing them in your life.

                        If one one is a self-centered, self-serving person, then they will not only have a hard time being a parent, but they will likely be an irresponsible parent and probably will find it impossible to have a healthy, loving and lasting marriage.

                        I consider "happiness" to be an empty, extremely short-sighted and one-dimensional goal for one's life, and one that usually benefits few and negatively affects many. I've found that if I do a little for myself but avoid maximizing my self-interest by spending time and energy doing things I don't particularly want to do for the sake of other's happiness or fulfillment, I end up feeling very happy, fulfilled, and connected to those around me in a deep and meaningful way that I can't obtain when I just try to make myself happy.

                        That's worth living for. Simply being happy, though....I guess I want more out of life than just that.
                        Last edited by Axis of Eeevil; 07-03-2008, 03:59 AM.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Article: Does having children make you happy?

                          I can't imagine my life without my children. Those of you who have them will understand, and those of you who don't may doubt me, but you simply have NO IDEA how much you can love someone until you have a child. It adds stress and in return takes all your time and a lot of your money and is without a doubt the best thing that will ever happen to you.

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