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Children and Unhappiness

Do You Want Kids?

There are plenty of reasons to have kids, but personal happiness is not one of them. In fact, the only study to suggest children make people happier over the last few decades was wrong.

After it was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the author found a coding problem in his data and was forced to regret the error in print, saying "the effect of children on the life satisfaction of married individuals is small, often negative, and never statistically significant.”

This week's New York magazine cover story rolls out the latest in children's-adverse-effect-on-personal-happiness statistics. Kids can be a transcendental experience, it seems to say, but they are rarely a joyful one.

I am afraid.

I'm sometimes impatient and like to have time to myself, and I believe this is true for most people — we just mask it with varying degrees of success. I like to think that the transcendental experience of having children would transform me into a more patient person. And maybe it would? But not without growing pains.

So on the never-ending pendulum swing between wanting kids and not, where are you today?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
I will never have kids, and am totally ok with that. If I had met a wonderful man and married younger, I probably would have had them. I didn't have enough desire for motherhood to do it on my own, hence am childless and surprise, NOT miserable. I think if people want kids, great. What I resent is people assuming that if you are childless, you are a selfish person because you are not "sacrificing". Sorry, but I didn't know part of being a parent was cashing in your martyr card. I also resent whatever poster said she looked at older people without kids and they looked liked they were sad and had empty lives....what a crock. I am sure kids add something to your life that other things don't.....ok. So does having a rewarding career and having the freedom to experience many new things without being tied down. I know I will be bashed for my selfishness, but it's ok. I spend hours a day taking care of other people in a stressful job, I know who is selfish and who is not. If you want kids, by all means have them...but don't judge others because they made different choices.
katialoves katialoves 7 years
""It sort of offends me that "I already have children" wasn't one of the options. Like mothers can't be interested in sex and culture too? There's a lot of anti-kid sentiment in your posts, Tres, and out of respect for me (as a loyal reader) I'd appreciate it if you could be a little more open-minded and understanding."" what she said... i was going to say it too, but then i saw all the sweet comments and felt like a beeotch. thanks for saying it nicely so i could ditto you, betty
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Hmmm... well I have a smokin hot body, a fast car, an active social life and a beautiful little girl who has been out of diapers for a couple of years now... but I understand where you're coming from, SKG. I think it's a common misconception that when a woman has kids she has to let go of her body and her style and her hobbies to raise them. I really feel sorry for any woman who does. It sort of offends me that "I already have children" wasn't one of the options. Like mothers can't be interested in sex and culture too? There's a lot of anti-kid sentiment in your posts, Tres, and out of respect for me (as a loyal reader) I'd appreciate it if you could be a little more open-minded and understanding. Though I voted no, because I would rather not have any more babies. I really don't feel any pressure from my biological clock, I mean, been there done that. If I ever get married I would like to adopt a couple/few that are closer to my daughter's age. She'll be 20 when I'm 40 and I look forward to living out my forties child-free. One thing I learned, kids are more fun that babies. Babies are cute but all they do is poop and cry and look cute. From now on I would rather skip to the ages when I can really interact with them like little-grown-ups. I think a lot of undecideds are just apprehensive about making it through diapers and potty training. In my opinion, a woman who adopts a 10-year old is just as much of a mother as a woman who raises her own natural-born children.
karlotta karlotta 7 years
I do want kids - in 15, 20 years. But I'm 33, so I can't afford the luxury of waiting that long. We'll see in a couple of years, but I do get terrified when I see my girlfriends' lives. I don't want that life!!
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I think I want them, but I'm not sure. I'm still young. I agree that many women who have made the choice to have children are condescending toward women who choose not to have children, though. I think Girl Jen gave a very well-said comment. A woman should do what she feels is right for her and her future children. And there should be no judgment for women making smart choices, whatever they may be.
ClassicalTorture ClassicalTorture 7 years
Ipitythefoo, I think saying that people should be ashamed of certain personal opinions is unfair. The fact that I was given life does not obligate me to create more. There are many more ways to show that I am thankful for the life I was given.
bryseana bryseana 7 years
I'm undecided. Now that I'm 30 this question gets asked a lot by family and friends. But, I feel like I sort of played the role of surrogate mother. Since I was 12 I've been helping take care of my brother's kids (my niece and two nephews). I don't mean just babysitting. I've taken them to their doctor appointments, school events, ball games, taken care of them when they were sick, etc... It's been a full investment. I wasn't out partying or finding myself as teen or 20 something, I was taking care of them. I love them like they're mine.
mix-tape mix-tape 7 years
I never wanted kids until I fell in love for the first time. I began to imagine a life with him and could see us being parents. Now that we're not together any more I don't know if I'll want kids again. I think there is something beautiful (and admittedly selfish) about wanting to create a child with a partner you love deeply. There is also something beautiful about raising a child too. The thought of adoption has always been on my mind, but that takes a special person to agree upon that. My sister just had her girl a month ago and I love her a great deal. It was my first experience caring for a baby and I did surprisingly well! I can't honestly say I want kids until the situation reveals itself. I will need to be married in love and both of us have a stable career before considering a child. I find myself leaning towards SKG's point of view often times, but seeing my niece and couples so in love with their children really makes me wonder.
TheEnchantedOne TheEnchantedOne 7 years
When I was a teen, I was sure I wanted to be a mom someday. But now, today? Since you asked... Today, no. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll be singing a different tune.
medenginer medenginer 7 years
Running- you will be a great mom so don't doubt yourself or your ability. Many know that I have already had children and married at a young age (two children by the age of 21). I'm no longer married but I'm happier now that I have ever been. You can be unhappy in a relationship with or without children. It is a change no matter what age you have children and it never stopped me from my goals. I travel when I can, an education came later, and the mini-van never happened. My kids are teenagers now so to have everything fall into place for me came later in life. It's a rewarding opportunity that everyone should have if that's their decision.
loveguruguy loveguruguy 7 years
For some reason I have always believed that kids are not for me. I had this notion right from my childhood days. I remember telling my friends that I will never giving birth to children.
amber512 amber512 7 years
Been trying for over three years, so yeah I definitely do!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I'm unsure, and at 26, I don't feel like I need to decide any time soon. I agree SKG - it's annoying when people act shocked by the thought of a woman not wanting to have kids. Like it's the only thing we should be living for. It's really annoying, and I feel sorry for married couples who are constantly bombarded by the question of when they're going to have kids. Also, I feel like a lot of the people I know who are having kids were women who got really into planning their weddings, and now they have a void to fill in their lives, so they "have" to have a baby just to have something to do because they don't really have any other interests in life. I'm not saying everyone is like that, just a few specific people I know.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Nope. Like some posters here, I've expressed my view on this matter in past posts. My husband and I have been together for about 15 years, and to date, we still don't want kids. We're happy and content with our lives, and we made the choice that was right and good for us.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I'm too selfish to have kids of my own. I don't want to be responsible for someone else and having children is something that last forever. I just don't want to come home after a stress day at work and deal with nagging, hyper kids. I enjoy doing what I like, when I want without worrying whether I'll be screwing this kid life. I like being an aunt, that is the best thing ever. You play with them spoil them and give them back when you don't feel like dealing with them.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I go back and forth, but I think eventually I'll have at least one child. I realize it won't be all sunshine and lollipops, life never is. Any challenge has it's share of frustrations, but it can be rewarding as well. I could totally be capable of raising an intelligent, thoughtful human being. I hope.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
I have no idea. I go back and forth. I love being an Auntie to 7 wonderful children, but I love being able to give them back at the end of the day and have time to myself. I get baby fever a lot, but at this moment, I have no desire to settle down with children. Maybe when I'm older and married. :)
bohokitty bohokitty 7 years
and btw, you don't lose your figure or your life when you have a child. Yes, your child comes first but you can still have fun. I am the exact same size I was pre- baby most people think my son is my friend's or my younger brother. Yea, you do have to work harder to maintain a social life but it's totally worth it.
whats-her-name whats-her-name 7 years
Kids are great (usually), and I'm way too young to even consider having children, but I've never wanted them. I can't wait to be an aunt though!
lawchick lawchick 7 years
I'm in the midst of a planned pregnancy, so obviously the answer is "yes" for me - though we will likely have just one. Approximately half of my friends have kids (ranging from 0-10 y.o.). They appear to be equally "happy" as the childless friends. The goofy smiles they get when around their kids are so sweet. I'm sure it's not like that all the time, but not a single one of them has ever complained about life after baby. So, I'm not convinced kids=misery.
bohokitty bohokitty 7 years
I NEVER wanted children but I love my son. I can't imagine my life without him.
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