This is a big topic. There’s no way I can summarize it with just one blog post. But I’ll try anyway.
Full disclosure, I have raised two children, my 13 year-old daughter and my 19 year-old son, and while it’s possible I could have more under the right conditions, it’s unlikely.
Here’s the bottom line on whether or not having kids makes you happier, that no one will tell you:
- For the majority of people in the modern western world, having kids makes you unhappier on the overall. There have been numerous, numerous studies over the years backing this up, about how people’s happiness levels decrease when they start having babies, then they increase again once the last kid finally moves out of the house.
- I said the majority of people. There are some oddballs out there who truly are happier having children. But these people are rare; I’d put them at less than 15% of the population. (And as always, I’m talking about the western world, not places like India or Africa). If you live in the western world, it is highly unlikely you are one of those people.
- Virtually NO PARENT will EVER openly admit that having kids made them less happy, because they incorrectly believe that’s the same as admitting you don’t love your children. Having your life less happy because you have kids does NOT mean you love your kids ANY less. One has nothing to do with the other.
If more people understood that, more people would admit the truth…that having kids makes you less happy. I love my two children more than anyone else in this world. That includes women I love or have loved, my parents, and even me. I love them more than anyone and I miss them when they’re not with me.
Yet I’m honest enough to admit that when I had both my kids living with me full-time, I was a little less happy on the overall. I wasn’t miserable, I just wasn’t as happy as when I was free to live my life and be myself. And no, that unhappiness wasn’t somehow “worth it”; i.e. I would have been happier had I never had children in the first place.
Most importantly, I can tell you for a fact this is exactly the same for the vast majority of parents out there. The only difference is I have the courage to admit it. They don’t. (Or a minimum, they won’t until they’re well into their 50’s when the kids have all grown and left the house, when they feel they can finally admit it without hurting anyone’s feelings.)
- Virtually no one realizes the financial and emotional toll and insane time commitment it takes to have kids until they actually have some and it’s too late to put them back in the womb. Even with things like marriage, a lot of not-yet-married people realize that being married will kinda suck. But with childless people, they think having kids is a consistently wonderful thing. People have no idea what they’re getting into.
- Even if people were to start admitting this unpleasant reality, women would still have kids. That’s what women are biologically wired to do. Even in our prosperous, modern, technological, secular age, the vast, vast majority of women still crank out a baby or two before they hit age 45, no matter how “evolved” or “liberated” or “informed” they become. I could say the same thing about most modern men as well.
So bottom line, having kids makes you less happy. But no one will tell you that. Except me.
But you don’t care. You’ll still have kids.