A friend of mine in Arizona sent me this article yesterday. There's some interesting stuff in it, and since I've recently made some posts about children, I had to share it with you all.
"Happiness plummets with kids' arrival
By Adam Bennett
May 08, 2008 02:42pm
MARRIAGE is a constant source of joy, but introducing children into the relationship will send your happiness in a downward spiral, a conference has been told.
Marriage, money and children were conventionally considered to be the cornerstone of happiness but such thinking did not stand up to scientific scrutiny, Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Gilbert told the Happiness and its Causes conference in Sydney today.
According to scientific and economic research, only marriage proved to be a constant source of joy.
"Figures show that married people are in almost every way happier than unmarried people - whether they are single, divorced, cohabiting," Prof Gilbert said.
"Married people live longer, married people earn more money per capita, married people have more sex and enjoy it more.
"Married people seem to be happier on every dimension that you can imagine."
Money can also buy happiness - just not as much happiness as people think.
"Money buys you a lot of happiness first and then it buys you less and less - every dollar buys you less happiness as the dollar before, and you reach a point where money is doing almost nothing for your happiness," Prof Gilbert said.
"But it's never the case that more money makes you sadder. If you get millions and millions you never get depressed about it."
And despite the belief that children were the apples of our eyes, they actually had a negative impact on happiness.
The more kids you had, the sadder you were likely to be, Prof Gilbert said.
US and European studies had shown that people's happiness did spike while they were expecting a baby but sharply plummeted after the child was born.
The low point came when children reached the ages of 12-16, and recovered only when they had flown the coop, he said.
"In reality ... children do seem to increase happiness as long as you're expecting them, but as soon as you have them, trouble sets in," he said.
"People are extremely happy before they have children and then their happiness goes down, and it takes another big hit when kids reach adolescence.
"When does it come back to it's original baseline? Oh, about the time the children grow up and go away."
Explaining why the statistics conflicted with most people's view of parenthood, Prof Gilbert made the unusual comparison to buying a pair of Armani socks.
"When people own Armani socks they can't stop telling you they are the best socks, the most amazing socks," he said.
"(But) I suspect that one of the reasons that people who own Armani socks think they are wonderful is because they have paid $85 for a pair.
"The psychologists tell us that we like things more when we pay for them - what does that sound like? It sounds like children. We pay for them in time, attention, blood, sweat and tears - what kind of idiots would we be to devote all of that to the rearing of our young if they'd didn't bring us some happiness?"
The fact that parenthood crowded out all other things in life could explain why we considered children our greatest source of joy, he said.
"Parents tell me all the time that: `My child is my greatest source of joy'," he said.
"My reply is that: `Yes, when you have one source of joy, it's bound to be your greatest'."