Newsweek poses the question: Having Kids Makes You Happy: True or False? The article cites several studies that find parents are in fact less happy than the childless (or childfree, as many prefer to call themselves), and that they have less happy marriages as well. The author, Lorraine Ali, is herself a parent, and counters the negative data with a reminder that “there are other rewarding aspects of parenting that are impossible to quantify” and that even if parents report themselves less happy, they still have “a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives than those who’ve never had kids.” For my part, I can honestly say that I am much happier now than before I had children. Was my life more carefree back then? Definitely. Is my life harder now? Absolutely. But what I have gained from parenthood is not just a sense of purpose and meaning (though of course I did gain those) but happiness as well.
A new NBC series, The Baby Borrowers, thows teen couples into the parenting pit and lets the world watch as they squirm. I didn’t watch the show, but the LA Times review of the premiere reported that contrary to what one might expect, the young men did rather better with the babies than the young women, who frequently dissolved in fits of tears and frustration. I doubt I’ll bother watching, since (a) I don’t like reality TV in general, and (b) I’m going to be reliving the madness myself in a little over a week, when our new addition joins the household, and any TV I do watch is going involve things to take my mind off the crying baby in my own house, not provide back-up in stereo.
Having just visited the show’s website to obtain the URL for my link, I saw that it contains a poll asking at what age couples are best suited to become parents. The results of the poll when I voted just now were: Teens 27%, Twenties 31%, Thirties 41%, Forties less than 1%, and later than that less than half a percent. The fact that 30s ranked highest didn’t surprise me, but I would have thought that 20s and 40s would both have garnered more votes, and teens far fewer. In case you’re curious, I voted for 20s as the best time, even though (or more likely because) I had my own children in my late 30s and early 40s. One of my earlier posts (and one of my favorites) will explain why.
Lisa Chamberlain, author of Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction, which will be published in a few days, writes on her blog about the effect getting “knocked up” (her term, not mine) has had on her life. So far, not much. She doesn’t feel any pressing need to marry the boyfriend who knocked her up (like so very many others today, alas) and doesn’t think the baby is going to affect her career all that much. Okay, stop laughing, all you mothers out there. You see, Ms. Chamberlain is a member of Generation X, which is far superior to those stupid Baby Boomers (you know, the ones who for the most part did think it was important to get married before they got knocked up – or at least before they started showing) in that Gen X couples practice Shared Parenting, that is, Gen X guys aren’t hamstrung by outmoded ideas about gender roles, and they really do half of everything house and kid related, fifty-fifty, share and share alike. Personally, I can’t wait to read Ms. Chamberlain’s blog a year or so from now to see how her boyfriend is doing in the fifty-fifty department.