Evidence has long said that having children doesn’t make you happy, even if you feel more fulfilled and satisfied than you were before you had children. However, new research from a group of psychologists from the University of British Columbia, UC Riverside and Stanford has shown that only moms seem to suffer from this particular brand of misery — dads actually report feeling happy and satisfied as a parent, whereas moms are reportedly no happier than childless women.
The basis for this conclusion seems to be that fathers traditionally don’t do a lot of the hardcore work at home, particularly when it comes to the hands-on work of raising babies and toddlers. This may hearken back to early models of the working dad and stay-at-home mom, where Dad would roll in at dinner time with the house and children taken care of.
Niki, mom of one, definitely felt that there is some disparity between the happiness level of a mother when compared to a dad. “I love being a mom!” she told us. “I do think my husband has it easier than I do though, because he doesn't have any added responsibilities. He told someone when our son was 6 months old that his life hadn't really changed much, but mine was completely different. I was happy that he noticed, but wished he would've done more to help me.”
Lisa, mom of one, says that she’s much happier now that she’s back to working full time after staying at home with her son for 16 months. “I love my kid but I don't always love being a mom. I have less time for myself now than I did when we were childless. Our marriage takes a lot more work since having our son.”
Some moms we talked to were not only happy as parents but satisfied in a way that they hadn’t expected. “I love everything about being a parent,” shared Brittney from Ohio. “I have bad days, just like everyone else, but I feel so honored to get to have this amazing little person to look after, teach, guide, and just hang out with. Being a mother has changed my perspective on life in ways that I would never have imagined. It's just so awesome.”
A user commenting on GOOD’s article agrees. “I'm a parent and while ‘parenting’ is difficult and sometimes exhausting, I would never sacrifice it for anything else,” she said. “It’s pure joy.”
Many modern fathers have way more involvement in their children than their grandpas did with their kids, or even that their fathers did with them. The idea of a stay-at-home dad isn’t totally outrageous anymore and even if Dad does work and Mom stays home, tons of papas enjoy changing diapers, taking toddlers to the store (by themselves!) and helping Junior with homework.
Parenting isn’t a moms-only domain, and shouldn’t be. While psychologists can research who is happy and why, more dads are taking their kiddos to the park so their wives can fit in some freelancing work or dads are stepping up and cleaning the kitchen so moms can take a shower. Parenting is not an all-or-nothing adventure, and it works best when both partners work as a team.
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