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Do You Want Children?

How Do You Feel About Having Children?

Maureen Dowd asks why women seem unhappier today than ever in her New York Times column over the weekend. Are they unhappier? Women today seem way happier than the defeated and bitter Betty Draper on Mad Men. But the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ moods since 1972, along with five other major studies, show women have become more dissatisfied while men are becoming happier. (Black women, interestingly, are a little happier since 1972, but still not as happy as black men.)

The number of distractions we have today correlated with women's rising unhappiness. The biggest distraction? Children. “Across the happiness data, the one thing in life that will make you less happy is having children,” Betsey Stevenson, professor and coauthor of a paper called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness" told Dowd. “It’s true whether you’re wealthy or poor, if you have kids late or kids early."

Stevenson concedes she doesn't know one mother who said she wished she never had kids, but knowing kids aren't all bundles of joy could make you feel more confident should you decide to opt out. How do you feel about having children?

Source: Flickr User Naso3

Join The Conversation
jazzytummy jazzytummy 7 years
I like kids fine, but have none of my own, and am neither sorry nor regretful of that. I think being a good parent requires two fundamental have to really like kids AND you have to really want to do that job. Two completely different things, which unfortunately some people who have babies don't realize until it's too late. I love elephants, but I don't want one in my living room. 'Nuff said.
pinkpolkadots88 pinkpolkadots88 7 years
Seams like there are a lot of people really judging everyone else choices! If you want a kid great have one- if you don't great don't! I know there is soooo much pressure on women to be perfect and make everyone else happy and I think it's crap!!! I would much more support someone not having kids that being a lousy parent (I heard some woman at the food store tell her 5/6 year old daughter that she was going to "punch her in her fat head" yesterday- too bad she had kids). Not wanting kids won't ruin your marriage and doesn't mean that you are cold or loveless. Just that you are making different choices than what most expect of you. And if someone wants a kid and has that love to give great for them!Yes they will change drastically and their priorities might not be their waist line or hitting the hottest spots in town but they will be just as fulfilled by their new priorities!! I know a lot of you have already expressed these feelings on this chain but I had to add my 2 cents :) Brit!
chloecat21 chloecat21 7 years
SO GOOD to see an article discussing the negative emotional effects of having children, I have always been certain I do not want kids and my decision makes me such a black sheep among friends, I just don't have any interest in wanting them..not for me...finally an article to prove what I've always know!
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I don't want any children, I've known this sense I was 16. I love kids, don't take me wrong; its just that is not for me, I don't want to relinquished my freedom. I want to do what I want when I want, and with kids you can not do what you want, you have to do what is right for them. And having children is the biggest responsibility you can acquire.
gigly_grl gigly_grl 7 years
I'm 28, never been in a serious long-term relationship, and DEFINITELY not interested at all in having a child now, least of all alone. If I meet someone in the next few years... and he REALLY wants children then we'll discuss.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Pink - why is to "just awful" to have kids when you are over 30?
Pink2022 Pink2022 7 years
def want kids soon even tho im 22. I always wanted to be a young mum and think its just awful to have kids when your over 30.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 7 years
I'm not sure, neither is the hubby. And I should be figuring this out soon since I'm in my upper-30s. It just never has been a major priority for me. Most of my friends have kids and quite frankly, I'm not willing to give up my freedom yet.
mira1988 mira1988 7 years
I cant wait to have children, I have a niece and nephew and there both my whole life. children really are a blessing but under the right circumstances. I actually want five children and adopt one. I have always loves children as for patients people think they wont have any but when it comes to your own children you find some.
lemamike lemamike 7 years
I am a bit undecided about whether or not to have kids. I have to say though I think having one child is underrated. Yes easy for me to say because I am an only child. I have two wonderful parents who raised me to be someone who is conscious of others, able to share and does not think the world revolves around me. Ask anyone who knows me! My parents had great careers but still were able to care for their one child without any resentment to their busy working lives. We have been fortunate to have a comfortable lifestyle, spend time with family and go on nice family vacations. Part of this is atributed to the fact that they only had the expense of one child. One child gives you much more freedom than two or three. I'm sure it would be great to have siblings and many argue that they want their kids to have siblings. I dont have any but I have many wonderful friends (whom I've been able to spend more time with and take on vacations due to my lack of siblings) and a great loving family. Plus, I have many friends who are not close with their siblings. That can be a crapshoot too. It is definitely a personal preference (my parents tried to have more but were unable) but with with the right kind of supportive, educational upbringing only children can grow up to be nothing like the stereotypes people have of them.
bethinabox bethinabox 7 years
I absolutely want to have kids. I'm only 20, so obviously not anytime soon, but someday. :) Of course it'll make you miserable sometimes, having to put someone else's needs ahead of yours 100%, but I think it'll be worth it.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
:) @ Anonymous #47. You sound like someone who has a marriage. There are pragmatic (and for me, romantic, loving) reasons for marriage. Children-raising is NOT the only reason to marry.
medenginer medenginer 7 years
Having them really changed me and made me responsible which necessarily isn't a bad thing. Sometimes people don't live up to the roles they've agree to. My happiness was impacted when my husband didn't live up to his part. I would rather have my children see me divorced and happy. Rather than married and miserable. I feel like I'm happier now than the majority of when I was married.
also_bastet also_bastet 7 years
I'm on the fence about kids. I feel like a lot of my friends who have had them are less happy because their partners don't help out with the baby or the housework. I definitely think that if a woman has a baby and expects her partner to share the child-related chores with her, and he does not do so, her happiness would be severely impacted. If I have a child, I expect my husband to be an active father who does his share of the not-so-fun stuff. We both work and the difference in our income is small, so I feel like I shouldn't be saddled with an overwhelming majority of domestic and child-related duties. Women who choose to become mothers but also want to retain part of their old lives (be it hobbies or time to relax alone) deserve to have supporting partners. I think a lot of women would be happier if they had discussed with their partners what they thought each person's role in parenting would be.
sidra5397 sidra5397 7 years
Ha! According to the study's results, today's men are happier than today's women while in the past the results seemed to indicate the opposite. Haha, figures that both sexes can't be happy at the same time... I kid. Sort of.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 7 years
I can't wait to have kids, baby fever has definitely hit me hard lol.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I could not imagine having one child by 21... let alone two. then again, I spent a lot of time drunk when I was that young ;)
medenginer medenginer 7 years
I always knew I would have children and can't my imagine life without them. I got a boy and a girl which is what I always wanted. My son is very funny and my daughter is academically gifted. I have well behaved, grounded, and appreciative children. I had two children by the age of 21. I have missed out on experiences but I also get opportunities that some people never get by not having children. As far as my figure I'm a size 6.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Spacekat, can you point out where you're seeing details as far as methodology used? When possible, I like to see how questions are phrased. The study poses an interesting questions: Are people unhappy because of their children, or are you people who are already unhappy simply more likely to choose to have children?
cotedazur cotedazur 7 years
I think the only good thing about this survey's result is that maybe it will allow women to see that having children shouldn't be automatic. I imagine that the majority of women who AREN'T happy to have children are those that had children because they felt obligated, or because "it was time," etc., and not because they really wanted to. If you don't want kids, don't have them. That being said, I don't know a single person who is unhappy to have children.
sidra5397 sidra5397 7 years
"There are too many generalizations based on evidence like Stevenson not knowing any women who are happy with kids (you can't base the argument that rearing kids makes every woman in the world unhappy on your own circle of friends)." Scratch this part of what I wrote. I misread and confused myself.
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