New research shows that people with children are only happier than people without children when their children are no longer at home
Parents of adult children benefit from the fact that their offspring expand their social circle
Childless people can get the same support by building networks of friends and relatives
Research Parent Happiness
The beautiful family of a man and a woman, three children and a dog who live comfortably in a pretty house with a white picket fence may be the traditional American ideal of happiness. But is it real? Probably not so much, at least according to new research suggesting that people with children are happier only when their children have grown and blown out of the stable.
The study, which was carried out at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, found that children are associated with a higher level of happiness than childlessness. However, happiness is only achieved when the youngsters actually become independent and leave the house. These results are based on a survey that involved approximately 55,000 people in 16 countries across Europe, all 50 years old or older.
After subjects answered questions about their well-being and mental health, the researchers analyzed the data and found that people with children are generally happier than their peers who do not have childrenHowever, this only applies if their children are grown up and no longer live with them.
The advantages of an independent, adult child
As much as those of us who have children, love our children, and cannot imagine life without them, it is hard to deny that they can weigh heavily on us as parents. Everything from behavior problems to financial pressures to dealing with the dreaded teenage years can significantly affect a parent's mental health. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that in many countries people without children have a better quality of life than their counterparts with children.
But as the latest research has shown, the tables turn as soon as our children leave home as capable adults. Why is that? As much as we miss them, the everyday stress of living with several other people is eliminated and our social support network is expanded. Rather than just relying on friends, siblings, and perhaps cousins, aging parents can also rely on their adult children to spend time together and prevent loneliness from setting in.
A strong social network (a real one, not an internet-based one) is essential as we head into our golden years. A 2016 study at the University of Montreal in Canada found that a support network for seniors is linked to better health and quality of life. And adult children usually provide one of the most important parts of that network; H. Care and social contact for their elderly parents. Having grandchildren is also beneficial for our sanity and longevity.
Increasing happiness whether you have children or not
A positive attitude and a satisfied perception of your life can go a long way towards staying healthy into old age. As we get older, our lives start to change. We are retiring or cutting our working hours significantly. Parents and even some contemporaries die. We may move to a new home or city, or close friends may move away from where we live. All of this changes our daily interactions and can make us feel somewhat isolated.
This is why creating and maintaining a social support network is so important, especially in our older years. If you have kids around that you can see regularly, that's wonderful. If not, you can still build a solid network and surround yourself with people who care about you and enjoy your business.
When you don't live around your family or close friends, use the technology to speak to them regularly over the phone, Skype, or Facetime and keep those connections going. Develop new bonds locally by making friends and seeing them often. Have conversations with others in your yoga class, join a walking club, or attend events at your local library. You will meet people who have similar interests to yours, who immediately have something in common.