This survey reveals when parents are happiest (and it’s not what you think)

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Having children is a daunting commitment so consider thinking about it as an investment or rather a well-being investment. You put down 18 years of stress and disappointment and you get a lump sum of relief and satisfaction when they leave the nest.

According to a new study of over 50,000 people,  having children makes people happier but only after said children leave the house for good. This demographic not only reported a higher degree of general satisfaction, but they also showcased fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. This was especially true for respondents aged 50 and above.

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To be fair, the reason behind the results of the new European study was considerably less cynical than my wounded appraisal, as the lead researcher Christophe Becker of Heidelberg University made a point to clarify that the  consistent report of satisfaction from the empty-nesters wasn’t energized by the children’s absence in and of itself at least, not for the majority of participants.

Rather the majority of respondents felt so happy after their cubs were out of the house because they got to reap all of the social enrichment of their children’s company without having to worry about their trajectory, finances, and scheduling in addition to being relieved of the responsibility to discipline them into focus. It goes without out saying that these results were doubly true for respondents with grandchildren.

They may also give something back by providing care and financial support to their parents. Hence, children’s role as caregivers, financial support or simply as social contact might outweigh negative aspects of parenthood,” lead researcher Becker commented this week in a statement published in New Science.

According to a similar Institute for Family Studies survey conducted here in the US, older parents between the ages of 50 and 60, without children living in the house, were 5% to 6% more happier than their childless counterparts.

This study appeared in Plos One and was authored by Christoph Becker, Isadora Kirchmaier, and Stefan T. Trautmann of Heidelberg University in Germany.