The Wall Street Journal’s recent Life and Style piece, titled “The Breeders’ Cup: The Case for Having More Kids,” provides a refreshing analysis of parenthood and parenting methods. While recent studies have suggested that people with children are less happy than those without, Bryan Caplan breaks down the statistics, showing that the single and childless are the least happy in society, and not parents.
An interesting Gallup poll conducted in 2003 among parents and childless adults over the age of 40 suggests that while parents might be more stressed for a time, they find the experience overall to be worthwhile and satisfying. When asked the question “If you had to do it over again, how many children would you have, or would you not have any at all?,” only 24% of childless adults would choose to be childless again, compared to 91% of parents who would choose to have children again.
Caplan also states that the primary reason that parents are less happy than their childless counterparts is from the added stress that they place on themselves, financially and otherwise, to produce a smart, successful adult. He references numerous studies from different time periods, indicating that parenting methods and income are of negligible importance when determining a child’s future success, but that a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere is more important as the child grows. The studies all suggest that instead of putting too much pressure on the child and themselves, parents can be much happier, and their children equally as successful, if they simply relax and enjoy their time together. Then, if parents lighten up and stop making drastic and unnecessary financial “investments” in each child, they should be able to afford and enjoy more children.