Monday, July 12, 2010

I heart being a parent - why doesn't every body else?

Edward Keenan at Eye Weekly did a great little article on July 7th "The parent trap: parenting vs. happiness". I had to take a look after one of my fellow parent clients said that all the research shows that parents aren't as happy as non parents.

Here's an excerpt from Keenan's article. But you really need to take a look yourself because the article is so well done.

Parenting makes you miserable. This is something on which scientific consensus has pretty much been reached — it appears to be a question as settled as, say, the existence of global warming or the fact of evolution. As detailed in “All Joy and No Fun,” a story by Jennifer Senior in a recent issue of New York magazine, people with children report being less happy than the childless in pretty much every study of the question that’s ever been conducted. (If you think this discussion seems weird here in the Love & Sex section, I would direct you to the comment, quoted by Senior, from UCLA psychology professor Thomas Bradbury: “Being in a good relationship is a risk factor for becoming a parent.” So too is having sex — heterosexual sex in particular — I’d add.)

There's a whole lot of controversy around happiness psychology and the subjectivity involved in measuring one's happiness. It's hard to put a number on it. It also seems that this eternal quest for greater and greater levels of happiness really doesn't recognize that the peaks can't exist without valleys. How do you know you're happy unless you know sadness or what it feels like to have your heart ripped out of your chest? This quest for constant happiness in life seems to negate the fact that being a human is complicated. Personally, I don't want to live in Pleasantville. I want to experience as much as I can in my life and not spend my precious time avoiding things that might potentially make me suffer despite the fact that my heart and soul hungers for it.

I don't look at my child as a burden. She's a freakin miracle and is my best teacher. Growth requires struggle and I'm not here on this planet to stagnate whilst numbing out. I'm not saying you have to be a parent to grow but the people who really interest me aren't the ones who play it safe in life not allowing experiences into their lives that might mold them into a more compassionate human being. Besides, people who have children expecting to be in a constant state of bliss are freakin' funny. Parents who aren't experiencing increased levels of joy after having kids need to get some therapy ASAP so they don't regret not enjoying their children today. We are so lucky they love us so much.

Children keep us in check. Their laughter prevents our hearts from hardening. Their dreams ensure we never lose our drive to make ours a better world. They are the greatest disciplinarians known to mankind.
-- Queen Rania of Jordan

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