Do Kids Make Women Less Happy in Life?

Facinating read from Maureen Dowd:

Marueen Dowd

Marueen Dowd

In the early ’70s, breaking out of the domestic cocoon, leaving their mothers’ circumscribed lives behind, young women felt exhilarated and bold.

But the more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved. Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?

According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.

Before the ’70s, there was a gender gap in America in which women felt greater well-being. Now there’s a gender gap in which men feel better about their lives.

Dowd goes on to mention studies that show that women with children are less happy, on average, than those without.

When women stepped into male- dominated realms, they put more demands — and stress — on themselves. If they once judged themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens and dinner parties, now they judge themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens, dinner parties — and grad school, work, office deadlines and meshing a two-career marriage.

“Choice is inherently stressful,” Buckingham said in an interview. “And women are being driven to distraction.”

One area of extreme distraction is kids. “Across the happiness data, the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children,” said Betsey Stevenson, an assistant professor at Wharton who co-wrote a paper called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” “It’s true whether you’re wealthy or poor, if you have kids late or kids early. Yet I know very few people who would tell me they wish they hadn’t had kids or who would tell me they feel their kids were the destroyer of their happiness.”

The more important things that are crowded into their lives, the less attention women are able to give to each thing.

Is the maternal instinct self-defeating? What do you say, ladies?

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One response to “Do Kids Make Women Less Happy in Life?

  1. This issue troubled me today as I thought about a stressed out friend of mine who had a baby recently (not to mention all the worry I cause my own mom). I think having children – while wonderful in so many ways – can have a huge negative impact on a woman’s self-worth. With two people in a couple, it’s all about you; once baby comes along, it’s all about the kid. One of my literature classes once noted that having children makes us realize our mortality. I’m not sure how right that is, but it certainly shifts each parent’s focus from their partner to their child.

    I think the crucial thing is for couples to reaffirm and support one another, and be careful to get into parenthood for the right reasons (i.e. not to hold on to the other person or produce a bargaining chip). Since parenting requires so much selflessness, moms and dads need to remind each other that they value themselves, too. A little romance and spoiling never hurts, and thoughtfulness is indispensable. That’s my two cents…

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