Maybe you’ve always dreamed of starting your own family one day, raising a few kids with or without a partner and seeing them grow to become smart, sensitive, kind adults. Without a doubt, parenthood is a rewarding task that only the brave undergo, but is it all for naught? According to a new study, you might be better off not having kids at all.
Parenting makes you miserable. That’s the general findings of a new study published in the journal Demography anyway. Canadian demographer Rachel Margolis led the research, which was performed in Germany and subsequently titled “Parental Well-Being Surrounding First Birth as a Determinant of Further Parity Progression.” For the record, Germany currently has the lowest birth rate in the world.
It was about wanting vs. having. The study wanted to determine the disparity between how many kids participants wanted to have in theory and how many they actually ended up having in reality. In Germany, people tended to want more kids pre-parenthood than they actually ended up having, suggesting that once they popped out one tyke, they thought better of expanding their brood.
There’s one major reason for this. According to the study, it all comes down to a “drop in well-being surrounding first birth.” In other words, people who had a kid were pretty miserable afterward. While the study didn’t ask participants how they felt about parenthood (because what parent is going to admit that being a mom or dad sucks?), they did ask them to rate their relative satisfaction with their lives in the years following birth.
It’s about more than post-partum blues. You might think it sounds normal that a first-time parent would become depressed/upset after giving birth. After all, in the first months of a baby’s life, they’re entirely dependent on you, meaning that the parent is sleep deprived, likely annoyed from all the crying, and just exhausted. However, what’s crazy about this study’s findings is that parents didn’t start to become majorly miserable until a year or two after their first child was born, so the earlier argument really doesn’t apply.
Parenthood isn’t just bad, it’s dire. According to participants in the study, the unhappiness caused by the birth of their first child was worse than losing their job, getting divorced, or even experiencing the death of a partner. Damn, that’s harsh.
Obviously the study is limited. It’s worth noting that this study only covered parenthood in the first two years of the child’s life rather than asking parents of elementary school-aged kids, middle schoolers, or even high schoolers felt like, so chances are much of the displeasure reported is due to the intensity of those first years.
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