1. Most people assume that having kids will make them happier, but most research shows that parents are less happy than non-parents.
2. The more kids a person has, the less happy he becomes.
3. The aforementioned research upsets people who want to cling to the fantasy that having kids is necessary for happiness and fulfillment.
4. Children negatively impact a marriage - more arguments (mostly about the kids), more stress, less time together as a couple, fewer interesting conversations.
5. Theories abound as to why parents are less happy than non-parents:
- people are delusional and bad predictors of what will make them happy.
- the experience of parenthood has changed - kids are no longer economic contributors/assets to a family. They are "projects to be perfected" that require intensive work.
- people have more choices now and experience more loss when they undertake the sacrifices involved in having kids.
- people try to apply the same logic they have used in their well-developed professional lives to the unwieldy task of childrearing. Frustration and disappointment ensue.
- The U.S. does not provide adequate social/welfare programs for parents (for example childcare)
- our culture promotes the idea of the "perfect parent" and nobody can live up to this ideal.
Of course, no critical article about parenthood could draw to a close without a little pro-parenthood backpedaling to soften the blow. The article ends discussing one research study which found that married women were less depressed after they had kids than their childless peers (apparently because they are too busy to think too much). The author posits that a sense of purpose is what makes people happy - implying that having kids is necessary in order to achieve a real sense of purpose in life. She also points out that people are more likely to regret things they have not done, rather than things they have done - suggesting that childfree regret not having kids, but parents don't regret all the many things they have not done, or have given up in order to have kids.