Excel At Life--Dedicated to the Pursuit of Excellence in Life, Relationships, Sports and Career
CBT Jealousy Depression Relationships Conflict Self-efficacy Happiness Goal-setting Motivation Wellness Sport Psych

Popular Articles

Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Happiness is An Attitude

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?

Popular Audios

Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

PsychNotes Index

More PsychNotes: Parenting

January 4, 2016       

Is It True that Parents are Less Happy than Non-parents?
by Monica A. Frank, PhD

You may have heard reports in the media stating that non-parents are happier than parents. However, that is a simplification of the true nature of this question. The answer is much more complex and depends on a number of factors (Nelson et al., 2014).

1) Child problems. When parents experience more frustration or worry related to their children they report lower levels of happiness. Such negative emotions may be particularly associated with problems the child may have or if the child has a more difficult personality style.

2) Strain. Under certain conditions children cause increased strain including physical, financial, and marital. For instance, younger children and children with problems may increase sleep disturbance in parents causing greater fatigue. In addition, parents may have less quality time for one another and more conflict due to disagreements over children.

3) Parental demographics. The nature of the parent's circumstances can affect happiness. Single parents are less happy most likely due to greater demands. Mothers are less happy than fathers perhaps for the same reason. Parents with a higher socioeconomic status (SES) experience more time strain, conflicting roles, and less meaning placed on child-rearing leading to a decreased sense of well-being. Older parents are more established with greater resources and more positive emotions associated with parenthood.

4) Employment status. When parental employment is based on choice and is associated with increases in self-worth and identity rather than increased demands it contributes to greater well-being.

5) Adequate social support. Social support may reduce the negative influence of some of the other factors. For instance, more support from family or friends may reduce the strain parents experience due to the demands of raising children.

6) Age of children. Younger children are more demanding of time, energy, and finances. Adult children can be more supportive. Thus, as children age, parents report greater well-being.

7) Parenting style. Intensive parenting which is consistent with the current demands of Western culture reduces happiness of parents. However, relaxed parents who take care of their own needs and desires to a greater extent experience a higher level of well-being.

8) Parental attachment. A more secure attachment style is associated with greater parental well-being. The secure attachment style may be related to the parent's own up-bringing which also impacts the quality of the marriage.

As you may see from this list, depending upon who is asked and what point in their parental life they are, the answer about happiness, well-being, and satisfaction can vary considerably.

Nelson, S.K., Kushlev, K., Lyubomirsky, S. (2014). The Pains and Pleasures of Parenting: When, Why, and How Is Parenthood Associated With More or Less Well-Being? Psychological Bulletin, 3, 846–895. DOI: 10.1037/a0035444

Kindle Books by
Dr. Monica Frank

Recent Articles

Analyzing Your Moods, Symptoms, and Events with Excel At Life's Mood Log

Why You Get Anxious When You Don't Want To

Why People Feel Grief at the Loss of an Abusive Spouse or Parent

“Are You Depressed?”: Understanding Diagnosis and Treatment

15 Coping Statements for Panic and Anxiety

Beyond Tolerating Emotions: Becoming Comfortable with Discomfort

Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

Newest Audios

Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training