In light of last week’s Fathers’ Day celebration, it seems appropriate to reassess why people decide to have kids and the actual benefits of parenthood. When thinking about the origins of human civilization, children were to contribute to family survival and care for their parents as they got older. However, for those modern couples firmly planted in urban environments, it would not be amiss to ask: What’s in it for me? A recent Wall Street Journal article investigates the potential benefits and pitfalls of choosing to have children and its findings may surprise you.
Studies show that adults without children are more likely to report that they are “very happy” than those with children. However, the difference in happiness is actually quite small, being only 1.3 percent for every additional child. Nonetheless, these numbers mean very little without taking into account the “customer satisfaction” ratings of childrearing. A nation-wide survey of parents in the US revealed that 91 percent would decide to have kids all over again, with only 7 percent expressing a negative inclination. In consideration of the unexpected nature of parenthood, one would expect a lower rate of contentment, but an overwhelming level of customer satisfaction pervades.
One of the stresses of bringing up children is the assumption that “there’s no acceptable way to make parenting less work and more fun.” In contrast to this idea, parenting has a smaller effect on a child’s long-term success than we imagine. Trying to disentangle nature and nurture has led to a whole slew of studies which utilize twins and children in adopted families to discover which is more important. Despite a belief that each small decision will affect the social, psychological and financial landscape of your kids’ future, all signs point to your parenting skills rating pretty low on the scale of necessities for success. This is not meant to imply that parenting can be ignored completely. All the studies cited in the article included commonly used parenting techniques that did not include hands-off negligence. It does show, however, that nurture is less important than it is thought to be. The most important effect parents have on their children is how they remember and perceive you. As kids get older, their parent’s influence wears off. So if you’re a parent, relax and enjoy the journey.