You will make many choices in life, but few are as significant as having children. How do kids affect your life and overall happiness? You know that no child comes without their unique issues, but the joy they bring should outweigh the moments of frustration.
The considerable debate by many scholars is that if you want to be happy, then you should forgo having kids. Others theorize that it depends on where you live and your support network that makes the difference. However, what if you skip having children, but you miss out on an experience so profound, and it goes deeper than just bringing joy to your life?
There are many studies on the matter, but the research is decisive. One study published by the National Journal of Medicine found that out of 900 people, many say having children affects your quality of life. Some participants stated that it was more enjoyable to go shopping or watch TV.
So, how do you know what’s right for you and your contentment on this earth? Having children will complicate your life and cause problems in your marriage, as they naturally take more time and effort. However, what about all those school programs when you beam with joy at the accomplishment of your little one?
What about the times they throw their arms around you and tell you how much they love you, or they bring home a grade card making the honor roll? All these times trump any research, as raising kids is not for the faint of heart, but it sure helps to have someone to visit you during your golden years. If it’s such a problem to raise children, why do people struggle with empty nest syndrome when they leave?
The Truth About Financial Strain and Having Kids
It’s essential to know all the facts before you decide to start a family. First, one of the primary considerations is the cost. According to an article published by the USDA, it costs just over $233,000 to raise a child from birth to age eighteen.
Now, this doesn’t include if you help to pay for their post-secondary education, which can only add to the burden. If you divide that number by the years, it costs about $12,944 a year or $248.93 a week to raise that child. So, if you don’t have an extra $250 sitting around each week, you may want to think twice about kids.
See, they need things like trips to the pediatrician’s office, clothes, shoes, food, a roof over their head, and all sorts of things that increase your budget. You will spend many sleepless nights worrying about money and suffer from sleep deprivation, but that little bundle of joy is something that most people would do anything to have and hold in their arms.
In the first few months of life, there’s a significant strain on a breastfeeding mother. She must endure physical pressure from the birthing experience, and then the constant late-night feeding and pumping sessions make her life feel like a wet nurse. Being up every two hours for diaper changes, hunger, or just being unsettled takes a toll on both mom and dad.
Where does time for romance and nurturing that relationship come into play? It’s essentially put on hold for the first few years, though it does get easier as they grow. Still, you must be strong enough to make things work within the marriage.
Taking the Time You Need
Another thing to consider is where you’re at in life, where you work, and your financial standing. If you work for a company that has paternal leave for both parents, the task of getting an infant stabilized becomes easier. A study posted on the National Library of Medicine shows that how happy you are with that child depends significantly on the child-care policies in your country and other benefits.
A country with significant policies to help new parents, like Norway, rated happier than other parents. Yet, those in Great Britain didn’t fare as well. Shockingly, the country affected most by the strains of a new child is the United States, but we also have some of the poorest options for new parents.
According to FMP Global, both Lithuania and Hungary have very liberal paternal leave packages, which allows both parents to share 156 weeks off. Yes, you read that right–three whole years. Another consideration is that most of that time is paid, or they receive a partial salary. The Swedish folks farewell with 480 days of shared time, receiving 80 percent of their wages.
When it comes to Americans, they get the short end of the stick. No legislation offers such a package when having kids. Though the Family and Medical Leave Act does allow a mother to have up to twelve weeks off, if the company has less than fifty employees, they’re not required to hold her position. The study also found many mothers in this country go back to work after only ten days, which isn’t nearly enough time for her body to heal and adjust to the changes.
The Phenomenon of Memory Distortion
Having children makes some people feel happy and complete, but others feel miserable. Once you get through the infant days, you have the terrible twos to look forward to, and then the teen years are always a blast. If you were to poll people in your inner circle, you would find that most say having children is the best thing they’ve done.
You must ask yourself if they would be happier if they chose to remain childless. Is it possible that people sugarcoat the truth and only focus on the good parts? Yes, and the phenomenon of memory distortion is at play here.
When you look back over your lie, you tend to focus on the peaks and mountains rather than the valley of horrible times. When you talk about having children, you’re going to pass right over the 20 hours of labor, the cost of raising them, and the times they drove you batty. A good parent chooses to focus on the good parts.
Sure, you don’t live in a world of pure bliss, but it’s the memories of happier times that you summon that helps you cope. After going through labor just one time, a mother wouldn’t do it again. However, it’s that memory distortion and the euphoria of holding the child in her arms that allow her to erase the agony.
Why Don’t People Regret Having Kids?
Once you have a child, you become attached to them. As they age, you become more friends, but the intense bond between the two never leaves. Most parents would never say that they would be better off if they didn’t have this person to love.
The attachments you develop towards this individual will supersede any decrease in the quality of your life. So, when you decide to have a child, you don’t think of its impact on your joy. Instead, you feel about sharing your bloodline, the relationships, and having that bond with someone who is part of you.
Another thing to consider is that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There’s more to life than just your happiness. Your kids will give you pleasure every day. While they may cause some rifts between you and your spouse, it’s still worth it.
These little bundles of joy give you satisfaction, purpose, and meaning. While you may not be happier having kids, you certainly will have pleasure and feel like your journey on earth meant something. Some go as far as to say that raising kids is a strange commixture of horror, discomfort, and pleasure all wrapped into one package.
You could correlate having a child to visiting a haunted house during the fall season. You’re nervous about going inside. Once you go in, your panic kicks into overdrive, but when you come out the other side, you feel euphoric and want to do it all over again.
Perhaps, people have many children and forget all about the pain of birth and the financial struggles. They only remember the intense feelings of pleasure when they see their bundle of joy.
Final Thoughts on How Having Kids Impacts Your Life
When considering starting a family, you don’t think about all the struggles of raising children. Instead, you tend to focus on the good things and turn a blind eye to the bad. However, there’s never a sunrise without a night, and parenthood provides both the dark and sunny skies.
Having kids is not for the faint of heart, nor is it something that you will get a prize for once they’ve grown. You learn a lot about gratitude and being thankful for the small things, like spending time together. Thank goodness the human mind is made to gloss over the rough stuff and remember the beautiful times, like family vacations, the first steps, and graduation.
At the end of the day, having kids isn’t as much about your continent and joy as making them happy. As a parent, you live every day to make your child’s lives better, and you want them to have and do more than you have done. Having kids may not make you a happy person, but it will make you blessed.
So, even though science says people who choose to remain childless are the happy ones, they also don’t know what it’s like to have something you created to love you so intensely. Joy aside, feeling that little hand reach up and embrace you, and tell you how much you’re loved, is a priceless gift.