Newsflash! Parents aren't happy
This week's Newsweek tackles the notion that your "bundle of joy" brings you anything but. Florida State University's Robin Simon, a sociology professor who's conducted several parenting studies, received a lot of hate mail after her 2005 study found that no group of parents — married, single, step or even empty nest — were happier than people who never had children. Well, Harvard's Daniel Gilbert backs her up in his book "Stumbling on Happiness." He looks at several studies and concludes that marital bliss drops dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home.
This is great news, I say. Put it on the front page. Parenting is not fun. It is hard work. Maybe if we yank off this fuzzy cloud of bliss that is supposed to be motherhood, those of us getting puked on won't feel so rotten about our bad days. And maybe it will dissuade lonely teenagers from having babies because they think it will bring them happiness. The question is, will parents be willing to admit that the greatest experience of their life has also made their life a lot less enjoyable? This phenomenon is apparently new to modern parenting because we no longer have kids to work the farm. Nowadays kids are like fireplaces: You can have them in your house if you like, but it's just an option.
In the meantime, pay attention to what can help make you happy, keep the romance going and demand time for yourself because you can't give what you don't have.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne