Being A New Mom Is Harder Than Divorce Or Spouse's Death, Says Study

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Alarmist much!?

My friends, who are parents, adore their children. All their kids are beautiful, talented, funny, smart, and have amazing futures before them. The parents' days are happy and filled with joy.

The funny thing is, I'm childless and I wouldn't change places with any of them. Parenthood seems exhausting. extremely difficult, and sometimes not rewarding at all.

But a recent piece in The Washington Post says that having a child — especially your first child — can have a huge negative effect on your life.

I mean, a monumentally bad impact on your happiness — worse than the top three big-bad-stressors of divorce, unemployment, and death of a significant other. Yes, you read that correctly: the responsibilities of parenthood can make your life way more of a living nightmare than losing a loved one.

In a new study published in the journal Demography, researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskyla followed 2,016 Germans who were childless at the time of the study, and continued until at least two years after the birth of their first child.

Participants were asked to rate their happiness from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied) in response to the question: "How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?"

The participants weren't asked about parenting specifically, since no one wants to break the illusion that every day of parenthood isn't filled with unicorns and flowers, and that raising a human being can be challenging and sometimes mind-numbingly difficult.

The drop in reported happiness of new parents was beyond the level you might expect from seemingly endless sleepless nights and getting poop all over you on a repeated basis. 

73 percent of participants expressed decreased happiness after their first child, compared to 27 percent who reported no change or an increase in happiness. The fall out from the negative experience was that many parents stopped having children after the first one.

The data showed the larger the loss in well-being, the lower the likelihood of a second baby. The effect was especially strong in mothers and fathers who were older than age 30, and with a higher education.

Rather than focusing on the unhappiness that children can bring, perhaps the best plan of action is to cherish those moments where the joy makes you feel like your heart will explode with love. Hopefully, it will help you through the terrible twos and the torturous tweens.


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