The debate between those with and without children is a subject known to evoke strong emotions. For many couples, having kids fulfills a deep desire, while others deliberately opt out of parenthood and some are simply unable.

Whether you're for, against or undecided on the topic, does having a kid make you happy?

Parents with baby \\ Photo: Albert Mollon; Getty Images

Kenneth Benjamin, founder and chief happiness officer of Happiness International, LLC, defines happiness as when your life fulfills your needs. By that definition, the right question is "Do I need to have kids?" says Benjamin.

He explains that answering that question is something that changes during your lifetime based on personality, life experiences and circumstances.

For new mother Jessica Shein, parenthood has had a positive impact on life.

“While our son wasn't necessarily planned, he has made our family better and enhanced our relationship as husband and wife,” shared Shein. “I have no regrets. Our boy has made us better, stronger individuals.”

Having a child gave Crystal Gettings a brand new perspective and set of priorities.

“I do not think that having children alone makes anyone happy; it can create added stress and other factors to life that were not currently present, especially if you are not complete with your mate,” says Gettings. “However, having my son changed my life completely. I realized that in order to be a better mom and person overall, that I needed to find my purpose, passion in life.”

Still, others suggest that having kids does not make people happy.

“Many studies show that overall life satisfaction decreases after a person has children,” says  Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker. “However, the few moments of pure joy parents receive when their children are ‘extra cute’ seems to be what makes parents go on to have more children.”

Even so, Morin finds that those moments don't seem to outweigh the tough parenting times enough to "even it out."

“For the longest time I wished that my husband and I had some deep reason for not wanting kids,” writes Jessica on DINK (Double Income No Kids), an online community for couples that haven't had kids yet or aren't having them. She’s not alone. Nearly one in five American women now ends her childbearing years without having a child, compared with one in 10 in the 1970s, according to U.S. Census data.

Bing: How do you know when you're ready for kids?

Jessica continues on, “But the truth is that we like sleeping in, drinking tons of wine and beer, taking impromptu naps in the middle of the day, spending our money on ourselves, and not feeling like we have to sneak a quickie in the laundry room (OK, unless it is purely for the fun of it).”

What do you think? Does having a kid make you happy?

Photo: Do kids make you happy? / Albert Mollon/Getty Images