According to quite a controversial study, having children determines such a significant drop in happiness, that the experience is actually worse than getting a divorce or even the loss of a partner.
The shocking findings of the study were published in the scientific journal Demography and then reported by the Washington Post. It has been widely discussed that new parents might have a difficult time adjusting to the great changes that a baby brings about, especially in association to postpartum depression, but rarely has a study conveyed such blunt and somewhat worrisome data to the general public.
The study was conducted in Germany and it only focused on the first years of parenting, which are generally regarded as being excruciatingly difficult. The researchers selected a total of 2,016 parents for the study and then asked them to rate their happiness levels on a numeric scale from 0 to 10, so that the data can be as objective as possible.
The ratings were made before they actually had the child, one year afterwards and then after two years, so as to get an extensive view on the progression of the entire experience.
The two main researchers involved in the study were Mikko Myrskylä, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research from Germany and sociologist Rachel Margolis, a University of Western Ontario researcher.
They wanted to see how the experience of having children weighs upon the mood and happiness levels of a person, because it is undoubtedly one of the most stressing experiences that a person can go through.
Yet it is still rather frowned upon to discuss the fact that there are significant hardships that come with this experience, even when it takes place in the best circumstances possible, and that it is not the Hallmark moment it is depicted to be, at least not all the time.
The study participants reported an initial increase in happiness levels immediately after having a child, but soon afterwords they reported a mean drop of a whopping 1.4 points, which is absolutely enormous considering that the loss of a partner or spouse was associated with a drop of 1 point and divorce with 0.6 points.
The results were particularly shocking because having a child is generally regarded as a one of the most positive experiences that a person can have, while losing a spouse, getting divorced or losing a job are regarded as some of the worst.
30% of the parents considered their level of happiness remained the same after having a child, thus proving it is possible. However, 19% of parents had an extremely difficult time that made them report a drop in happiness levels of only 2 points.
Furthermore, 17% of the parents had a significantly traumatic experience in their first two years of parenthood, thus reporting a drop of 3 points or even more than that.
The findings of the study were meant to demythisize the blissful, entirely happy image of parenthood and to point out that it might affect people in a very different manner, as the differences in happiness levels reported by the study participants varied from 0 to 3 or more points.
Moreover, they were meant to enable people to discuss their hardships, so that they may overcome them, instead of fearing being deemed inappropriate for mentioning a less than happy experience with parenthood.
Image Source: cdn.24