Are People Who Don’t Have Kids Happier Than Those Who Do?

PlaqueLately, I’ve been reframing how I see the life. I used to think that most people were happy (with their life) and that they liked others. I thought this satisfaction was pretty much a given.

I see now that this is my projection for the most part. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that many people are extremely disappointed with their life. This has been hard (Saturn) truth (Sagittarius) for me to swallow.

I wrote that a couple days ago. I was interrupted before I could finish it. Then today someone told me about a study that showed that people who don’t have kids are happier than those who do.

I would have thought the exact opposite was true. I don’t know who did the study. I definitely think a lot of what we read is total, skewed, crap. However, the gal assured me she had vetted the information and who knows? Maybe I need to dial down my expectations even further, in order to collide with reality.

Assuming people are happier if they don’t have kids, it makes me wonder if this was always the case, or it’s a modern thing.  I tend to think this is the case.

I think it’s the case, because I know a lot of older women and their lives are and were graced with their children. You had your children, you raised them and your life was full and satisfied.

Here’s my question: What does it take to be happy today? Because a family used to do it for people but clearly this has changed.

Any insight our there?  

97 thoughts on “Are People Who Don’t Have Kids Happier Than Those Who Do?”

  1. I don’t know many truly happy people, period. Kids don’t necesarily make people happy, but creating a family with someone you love with every cell of your body will. It’s the way it was intended. Love is everything.

  2. I don’t have kids because I think my (Aries) mother ruined the dream for me when she complained all the time when I was a kid about how hard it was to be stuck at home with 4 kids, making dinner every night and I really felt so SORRY for her. I’m 9 years older than my youngest brother and 7 years older than the next one up, so I did whatever I could (Libra) to make my mother happy. I fed my youngest brother and tidied up the house almost every day but my mother was never quite happy with everything (Virgo moon). She would be stuffy because I cleaned up the place (years later I realized it made her look bad in her own eyes) or she would be depressed because the house was a wreck. Anyway, I grew up thinking that having kids was a BIG responsibility and such a source of immensity that no one would be happy with that, so I believe that is one of the reasons it didn’t happen for me. My story has a silver lining tho — I’m an aunt to 2 great nieces and I get to spoil them regularly, so it’s not so bad and I have some free time, too. However, I live with my mother now and it’s only 3 adults here and she still finds something to complain about! (Yes, I plan to move on, help me Jesus).

  3. Well, my birth family is…not happy making, generally speaking, and I’m too hopeless to partner off in life. My best skills in life aren’t ones that anyone would pay money for, so I’m stuck in a job that is becoming more and more of a “bad fit,” but I can’t get anything else either.

    So yeah, I’m not happy, I haven’t figured out how to fix any of that, and most of it isn’t exactly under my control. And to be fair, I’m not naturally cheerful and happy anyway so that’s an uphill battle.

  4. Whether someone is happy with kids really depends on the person. Some people love big families, others don’t. The real problem is that people have kids without thinking about the lifelong commitment part. They grow disenchanted when they actually have to sacrifice and dedicate themselves to parenting. Its a job for life and a huge financial burden on top of that.

    If you grew up in the 1950’s when I did, you grew up in a Norman Rockwell America,where the simple pleasures in life were all we had. We had each other, our neighbors. The family unit was intact and people lived close to each other. Most women didn’t work much and raised kids. It was cheap enough. The streets were safe for us kids to walk to school.

    Back in those days, our world was more conducive to raising kids, but today it is very complicated. Financially, its a real burden and geez, look at our world. Aside from that, the family unit is gone.

    I knew from a young age that I just had no maternal instinct. People thought I was weird back then that I didn’t want babies. That was in the early ’60s. There was a lot of pressure from both of our families to have kids. I’m glad I didn’t. I did what was right for me regardless of what anyone said. My husband didn’t want kids either and we didn’t let our families pressure us into it.

    I’m older, so today I saw my friends with their grandkids and question if I made the right decision not to have children. They all have fun with their grandkids and I don’t. I think thats great but it couldn’t be my life, only just for a moment.

    I don’t know what it takes to be happy today. Thats a good question in our times. I think probably having a decent job and prospects for a better future would be ideal, but there aren’t good prospects for that. Its hard to be optimistic in our times.

  5. I strongly dislike,not to say I detest, this modern and quite recent trend of people who don’t have kids to loudly and pubicly declare how happier they are than the “poor traditional folks who became prisoners because they are not free anymore”. Last one was this chick from Sex and the City who tries to convince herself mostly how fine she is with being “child free” and how “childless” is offensive. Nevermind it is a figure of speech, let’s change it. As well as fearless, painless, etc. Happiness is a choice. People who expect any other person to make them more or less happy, including their children are not only set for a failure but are also turning the other person’s life into a torture. That’s emotional abuse when our children feel guilty for our lost “freedom” or burdened witb our happiness. Children, lovers, partners, friends, colleagues, bosses- tney don’t make us happy. We do so by the choices we make. Choose whatever you wish but keep it civil.

  6. BTW, to answer some of the comments above, I have children because *I wanted to*, regardless and aside from any other people or institutions. I am a single parent, travelling, working, and living life as much as I did before and no, I’m not a millioner. Yet. 🙂 I can’t relate to the whole “can’t do this or that anymore”. It’s all doable and enjoyable. With kids.

  7. 26 with no kids, and I am glad. I’ve got enough issues involving securing a foundation & identity for myself, without needing to keep baby in mind 24/7.

  8. 2 years is too short to study this. With kids, it’s a patience game. Kids can drive you crazy almost every single second of every single day but then they have these wonderful brilliant moments that instantly make up for any aforementioned craziness. It’s magical. I know of nothing else or nobody else in this life who can do that!

    Now, would my life be easier without kids? With less gray hair? Less bills? Less stress? Less mess? Less worry? Less distraction? Less boogers on the wall or laundry to wash? Sure. Absolutely.

    But would I actually be happier? No way. Having kids has added a level of depth and richness to my life that nothing else can compare to. They are my gold and I treasure them. ?

    (Cancer sun)

  9. Avatar

    Hi Elsa,I think it comes down to remembering that what one person needs to feel happy might be the exact opposite of what another needs. I’m a Sag sun Scorpio moon, knew from the time I was very young that I wanted nothing to do with raising children and the intolerable (to me)loss of freedom and solitude that accompanies being a parent. In my 40s now, there’s no doubt in my mind I made the right decision. Do I sometimes think maybe I missed out when I meet a great kid? Sure. Regrets are part of life no matter what decision you make. But 95 percent of the time, I’m happy with my choice. Good enough for me. Generally, I find parents who are secure and happy as parents never judge me for my choice or feelings, because they also were true to themselves.

  10. I don’t think happiness depends on any one thing, and I also think it is overrated. There are lots of ways to feel. I feel happy sometimes, sad other times, and a million other ways at other times. That, to me, is life. (Cancer stellium, anyone? :))

    I have two babies and another on the way. I take pride in how wonderful they are and can’t wait to meet the next. They make me happy, but they make me absolutely insane at other times. I don’t get enough time to fulfill other pursuits, so no, definitely not happy all the time. Sometimes I have a miserable day when I feel like screaming, What is the point??? And then the next day the sun is out and everything is alright. This is life. This is my life. We have to simply live it, children or not. Learn to live with the multitudes of feelings that come with it, no matter what makes up our individual situation.

  11. Avatar

    I asked a therapist what makes the difference between a devoted parent who genuinely loves raising a child and one who hates every minute of it and regrets becoming a mother or father. His curt answer was: “How much you like your kid.”

  12. Well, I don’t have any kids and I know I am very happy! Never had that old ‘biological clock’ ticking away as so many of my friends did. Now they are all tied down and are truly not happy because they have no time for themselves. I have said that kids are highly over-rated!

  13. Daniel Gilbert in his book claims it makes you very unhappy and you only come back to happiness as an empty nester. He also says marriage makes you happier but kids make you sadder. Love to hear your opinion if you ever read stumbling on happiness. It makes sense to me only from the point of view that you choose your partner based on compatibility but you do not choose your child. I am the sand in my family’s oyster.

      1. Gotta tell you that in my case, it’s more like I am the “baby monster.” I am a spoiled, well-loved child who had to stir stuff up emotionally or isolate, and wanted to escape or something. I did a lot of self confessing and dumped a lot of negativity because I tend to need a “confidante” to re-assure me or I spin out. I’m still working out just what my problem is, with Pluto transiting my moon. I wish I were an empath or something, that would definitely make the guilt go away..

      2. People sometimes forget that the child can also be a sucky person. I wasn’t given a lot of limits and took a lot for granted. I did a lot of analyzing on my own to see where my particular “darkness” came from, it is just me and my way. There are a lot of sweet, empathic people emerging from dark pasts, on occasion there are empathy-challenged people who can’t love that stomp on everything around them coming out of good loving homes.

    1. In Buddhism it’s believed that we pick our parents. I believe that but I also believe that god approves of the match. There’s no mistakes. I’m glad my child picked me.

  14. I can only speak from my own experience. My son is thE best thing that’s ever happened to me and the best thing I’ve ever done.

    My take on this whole thing is colored by my thoughts about how the Feminine is not respected in our culture. Mothers aren’t supported as they should be (my opinion of course). I don’t know but that study might just show that having kids in this culture is difficult. Many women have to work more than they wish, leaving their kids with strangers. That’ll make a mom unhappy. Dads are stressed with having to take over a lot of the care taking that used to be taken care of by women. People are just stressed and spread thin by all the responsibilities, not just their children.

    It is absolutely the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life besides commiting to a spiritual path. Im so honored to take care of this small human being and get to know him.

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    LibraNoir, it would be a better world if all parents loved their children but as we know, many really don’t. Whether or not children choose their parents,whatever spiritual structure might be in place, that does nothing to ease the anguish of a child who knows in her deepest gut that her mother or father hates her and enjoys her suffering.

    1. Scottish I was raised in a chaotic, abusive, sick, and neglectful environment. It absolutely eases my anguish to know that my soul chose this life. When you’re in the middle of the confusion and self pity it can seem like there’s no meaning or purpose to it but there is! There is a more complete understanding of life on the other side. Acknowleding the divine inside can help too.

    2. anonymoushermit

      Scott, my parents were jerks. There’s just no way around that. I see it as past life karma, but even if it is past life karma, that doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to them. Self preservation isn’t bad. I get what you’re trying to say.

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    I’m glad your beliefs have eased your anguish, but it doesn’t work that way for me. I guess everybody has to find their own way for themselves.

    1. Absolutely. I acknowledge your way as yours and the choice to live and think and feel the way you want as yours alone. No judgement here.

      In my case I was so burdened and felt like such a prisoner of my own emotions I had to change something and that something ended up being my own inner perspective. My relationship with myself. That’s ultimate self preservation.

      I apologize if I derailed the thread everyone. Scottish if you’d like to pm me feel free.

        1. Just that healing can happen and in my case it helped to look inside myself and how I looked at things. But also acknowledging that it might not be that way for everyone. Just expressing my own experience in case it might resonate with someone. All i can talk about is my own experience. I found something that helped me make sense of things and free me and I’m so grateful for that that I like to share it.

  17. My daughter is 14 years old, and I always thought I’d never have anymore kids. Now here I am pregnant (9 weeks) with my second child at 34. I think I’m more scared this second time around than I was with my first. But that is more because my life is all topsy turvy at the moment. I do not plan to have this child’s father in our lives either. I’m hoping and praying that everything will turn out well with this new baby.

  18. I used to obsess about having children, it made me miserable. Everything I did to have kids failed. At 35 yrs I realized I must not be meant to have kids and my creative energy is meant for other endeavors and I chose to see the bright side of things. So in my case it makes me happy and sad, but as time has gone on more happy. 🙂

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