Friday, July 4, 2008

Man and I just got a Niece!

Having Kids Makes You Happy

In Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness," the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home.
I wondered about this as a kid. Have you observed parents with young children? They usually look run down and stressed; serving as chef, nanny, laundress, secretary and chauffeur to someone much smaller and less interesting than themselves. Any parent worth their claim on a birth certificate will worry about their child until one of them passes away. That type of worry has to take a mental toll directly affecting their daily happiness.

In pre-industrial America, parents certainly loved their children, but their offspring also served a purpose—to work the farm, contribute to the household. Children were a necessity. Today, we have kids more for emotional reasons, but an increasingly complicated work and social environment has made finding satisfaction far more difficult.
Doesn't this remind you of all the articles and books telling us that we can't buy happiness? It seems like everywhere I click these days someone is assuring me that Americans own more but are less satisfied. We work in order to acquire items which may bring about passing joy. If buying items doesn't guarantee a permanent joy where is the certainty that growing one inside of you will?

I'm pro-parenting and happy to have a pair happily living and healthy. That doesn't mean I'm not itching to read Stumbling on Happiness. Look for a review after I finish the books on cupcakes and plants.


eviedee said...

I loved Stumbling on Happiness. The book is a great overview of what makes us happy but leaves you free to draw your own conclusions. Congrats on your new niece!

Frugal Trenches said...

What a great post, I will try to get this book from the library!