Both single and married parents consistently say that the best thing to ever happen to them is their kids. We’ll be the first to admit: kids are not for everyone. Not every adult wants to limit their options in life by contributing to climate change with the single biggest carbon footprint you can leave behind (we’re not making a point there, we’re just saying it because it’s true). But whether or not to have (or adopt) children is completely up to you.
In any case, is it true? Will having children enrich your life and make you more fulfilled?
There are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, the most important factor in longevity — and this is according to science — is the continued social relationships you maintain well into old age. Having children or a tight knit community can help cement these bonds. That’s not to say you can’t maintain social bonds without children. You can! But it might be more difficult as you get older and people have families of their own.
Second, having kids won’t necessarily make you happier. We know this is contrary to everything you hear from, you know, actual parents, but science says it’s true. Professor of sociology at University of Texas in Austin Jennifer Glass says that life satisfaction is “not the same thing as happiness, and it’s not the same thing as financial well-being, good physical health or good emotional health.”
Glass says the research shows a slight increase in overall happiness soon after birth — but that it goes away just as fast.
Professor of sociology at the University of Maine Amy Blackstone explains, “You find that [parents’] happiness plummets pretty quickly once they discover all of the work that’s involved in a brand new baby.
Some people avoid the earlier hurdles of having children by adopting or fostering older kids or teens. This will obviously be paired with a whole new set of struggles, but some would-be parents find the challenge of navigating adolescent stages of life a fulfilling experience — especially since some people are simply better at dealing with teenage angst.
Not sure if adoption or fostering is the right choice for you? Shoot a message to a Maitland Family Law Attorney for a free consult. You can also chat with an attorney if you’re going through divorce or need to change the terms of a legal contract that was already written.
It’s important to focus on the positives more than the negatives when you struggle with your own kids — which is good, because parents tend to do precisely that. Glass says, “And thank goodness for that, because those same marvelous little creatures can put us into the abyss of despondency if anything goes wrong.”
Another important factor into whether or not kids will enrich your life? Money. We’ve routinely said that more money won’t necessarily make you happier — because it depends on how you spend it — but one thing’s for certain: poverty definitely leads to depression. And having kids can absolutely bring you below the poverty line. No matter what happens, these are personal choices. Make them carefully.