Are you REALLY happy to be a parent? Or are you lying to yourself?
By now I am sure many of you have read the articles referencing the study that indicates "..the idea that parenthood involves substantial emotional rewards appears to be something of a myth". The study was conducted by Richard Eibach and Steven Mock of the University of Waterloo. You can read more about it here:
The Bottom Line of Raising Kids: Parents Rationalize the Economic Cost of Children by Exaggerating Their Parental Joy - Association for Psychological Science http://bit.ly/fUOdra
The conclusion of the study is that parents deceive themselves into believing that there are greater emotional rewards associated with raising children than there actual are in order to justify the high costs associated with parenting.
I completely disagree with this study. Am I deceiving myself?
The scientists found that:
Parents whose feelings of emotional discomfort were measured immediately after priming their thoughts about cost felt much worse than did the parents with a more mixed view of parenting. But if the scientists first gave them the opportunity to idealize parenting and family life, and then measured their conflicted feelings, those negative feelings were gone.
Makes perfect sense to me. If someone is presenting you with negative information regarding a significant decision you made what else are you to do but to rationalize your decision. The question is how is rationalization versus deception measured scientifically? That is what I do not understand. Why are the parents deceiving themselves and not just rationalizing their decisions?
I can only speak for myself but I have researched the projected future costs asssociated with raising two children and it has no effect on me. Sure an extra $190,000 x 2 sounds great but if I wasn't spending money on my children I would probably be one of those creepy addicted to plastic surgery housewives. That lifestyle is not for me especially since I am terrified of anesthesia but that is a different story.
I hate the person I was before I had children in comparison to who I have become. I wasn't a bad person by any means but I was far from the person I would want my children to be.
My children completely changed me. I no longer fantasize about stuffing my pockets with rocks and taking a slow walk towards Lake Champlain like I used to. Life seemed (to me) incredibly pointless and bleak. To those looking in from the outside I am sure it seemed I had everything to live for but I didn't. I had no idea what was missing but in my case it was my children. I have them now and even though life has most certainly brought me the same exact difficult circumstances and heartbreak I endured prior to motherhood they are much more tolerable now.
My life is a joy. No one has to believe me. I couldn't care less. Is my joy worth less or more than $380,000? I have no idea. We are fortunate enough to live comfortably but if we weren't perhaps I would, for a fleeting moment, question my decision. I do not hold that against some people. Kids ARE expensive. I remember thinking to myself that if I did not have two kids in daycare (right before I decided to stop working outside the home) I could have a Range Rover. I decided that I like my kids better than a Range Rover. Actually my kids are cheaper than Range Rovers. Those stupid things cost like a million dollars to fix.
Anyway my kids do bring me immeasurable happiness in a way I could never possibly have imagined in my previous life. I do not believe for a second that kids bring the same joy to everybody and do not believe that one needs to be a parent to live the happiest possible life. I know I am not deceiving myself because when I do try to justify my decision to have kids, in terms of cost, I do so by rememberering that my daily forced breakdancing lessons will pay off in spades when my children turn out to be pop sensations. THAT is justification.
Also what age were these people's children? The study used parents of at least one child under the age of 18 but I am sure the conclusion is much different when measuring a group of newborn parents versus parents of school-aged children.
Am I alone? Do you think parents lie to themselves about their happiness in order to justify the cost of raising children?