Can Having Kids Make You Happier In Life?


Will having children make you happy? Is destroying your current lifestyle by having kids worth it?

I recently read an article by Mommy blogger Sarah Bregel where she ponders the question, "Do we trade happiness for motherhood?" and she asks "has having children made you happy?" It made me curious about whether or not having kids does in fact make people happier. 

A recent  study concluded that having children does not correlate with increased happiness, but that people with children are at about the same level of happiness as their childless counterparts. Ironically, most previous studies indicated that people without children had more satisfying lives than those with children.

However, what having children does do is release you from the pain of wanting children. But once those children come in, you will return to whatever your baseline level of happiness was prior to not having what you wanted.

My husband and I had a relatively happy, content life prior to having children. We always knew that we wanted kids. One day, we decided we were ready. I explained to my husband that he'd better be sure because I just knew that I was going to get pregnant on our first shot. And so we took the plunge, so to speak.

Month one—nothing. Month two—nothing. And this continued for months, which turned into a year, which then turned into another year of stress, anxiety, extreme sadness, helplessness and a deep feeling of being very, very alone. Going through those years of infertility were among some of the darkest in my life.

I cried most days, I avoided my friends for fear that I'd have to hear pregnancy announcements, I avoided baby showers, and if I saw a girlfriend out or at a party avoiding alcohol, I'd go home and cry because I suspected she had a delicious little secret that soon would be revealed. I was depressed, miserable and grieving painfully. And then one day, 26 months after we began trying, just like that, I found out I was pregnant.

I now have two children and what's gone are those years of intense sadness and depression. I am no longer dealing with the pain of infertility. Having children has taken away my sadness about not having children. However, I feel the same level of happiness as I did before I began trying to have children. 

I'm relatively content and feel about life pretty much the same way as I did prior to having kids. Most people will tell you the same; that they do not feel very different than they did before they found their soul mate, had their children, made millions of dollars, etcetera. Our happiness pendulum tends to swing back to its set point. It's the pain of wanting that rips us to shreds.

There is a danger in believing that children will bring you happiness. They won't. Sure, they will bring love into your life that you never before knew, they will make you laugh, they will change your life dramatically. But who you are and how you feel day-to-day will not be spectacularly different. Happiness is an inside job and though love for a child is irreplaceable and magical, it's not going to bring you happiness if you don't have it already.

That being said, bringing love and positivity in your life and increasing your level of happiness is totally possible. Bringing a child into an already peaceful environment rather than relying on a new baby to bring you joy will make for a happier family overall.

So, to answer Ms. Bregel's question, yes, I'm happy. But I am also tired, very tired, and I am anxious about things I was never anxious about before and I don't have time for myself. But this doesn't preclude me from being happy.

It's certainly stressful and it's definitely difficult, motherhood just is! But I don't think that we swap out happiness for motherhood. I think that we create a life for ourselves that is completely different, and maybe once we adjust to that change, we can return to whatever previous level of functioning that we were at. Hopefully that's a level of happiness that we are satisfied with. If not, it's something we always have the opportunity to work on.

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