For the child free, this should come as no shock. But my guess is some parents will be surprised by the findings.
A recent study conducted by the American Sociological Association concluded that parents are more likely to be depressed than their child free counterparts. People without children were deemed happier than any other group, including empty nesters!
The authors acknowledged that as a society, “We romanticize parenthood. It’s difficult and it is expensive.”
This is reassuring news for those of us who have made the decision not to have kids.
The study lists obvious factors, including more worry, financial drain, and guilt over not being able to “do it all.”
I have some clear cut data from my own life that supports this research. I know that my newly minted mother friends are definitely more stressed than I am. If I have a long, hectic day at work, at least I know when I get home my house will be blissfully quiet and calming. For parents, the chaos never seems to end. When it’s finally bedtime, most of my parental friends aren’t far behind their kids drifting off to Slumberland.
They also have little time to even talk on the phone, let alone have a nice evening out with their husbands. Chris and I have plenty of time for each other, both for special “dates” and just to sit together in the evening reading or watching TV.
Money is probably one of the biggest issues. We often talk about how on earth people can afford to have kids, and how they just couldn’t squeeze themselves into our present budget. A few years ago, I refinanced my student loans for 20 years, so it is conceivable that if I had a child this year (at the age of 31!), I would be paying for my own education at the same time I sent my kid off to college! Unbelievable.
For me, the greatest factor would be the worrying. When my husband gets on a plane, I immediately begin imagining all of the horrible things that could happen. I worry when my sister and her husband are on a road trip, when my cats are home alone, and when I get my mother’s answering machine when she didn’t tell me she was going anywhere. All these things indicate that I could not deal with the worry of parenthood.
It is interesting how most parents know they are under intense pressure from these issues, and yet say they wouldn’t trade their families for anything.
That’s great for them. But I won’t trade my child free life for anything either!