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Does having kids make you happy?

The great happiness debate: Parents vs. their childfree counterparts.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Feb 21, 2013 10:19PM

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?

Photo: Do kids make you happy? / Albert Mollon/Getty ImagesMore from MSN Living: How dogs make our lives better

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."

More from MSN Living: 15 amazing, inspiring baby nurseries

“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?

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

Sep 10, 2013 7:44AM
Personally I cannot abide children and I've promised myself that I'll do whatever is necessary to avoid getting stuck with them, this doesn't mean that I hate or look down on people who do want/have them. It therefore confuses me when I receive such incredible bile and hatred whenever I mention my plans to stay children, especially from people who are already parents. I'm a grown woman with free will, thoughts, choices and most importantly a great education. Why is it assumed then that I do not know my own mind enough to recognize that I do not want to breed?
Apr 23, 2013 7:29PM

I love my Son. Times were very hard when he was young. He's Asperger's Syndrome.

I tried to work, but babysitters came hard. Either they were not experienced enough to deal with his "tantrums" or they followed every book. Either way, I lost. But- I tried. Being a single Mother with a "Special Needs" child wasn't easy, but I made the best of it, and that child has grown into a fine young man, soon to graduate college. I must have done something right! I don't regret being a Mom. EVER! He changed my life and makes me a better person.

Apr 23, 2013 7:03PM
I love it.  I got married late after having a career for a long time, bought my own house,, had plenty of friends etc..  Finally met and married DH.  We both wanted them, and tried 2 1/2 years to have them.  Now we have three, my last born a few days after my 40th birthday.  My life was a empty shell before I found my husband and had my kids.  Life is full, complete, busy, happy.  It's also a boatload of hard work and sacrifice for others as well.  I would never want to go back to life before my family. All I remember is a overwhelming loneliness and lack of purpose.  If you don't want kids, don't have them.  There are plenty of people having them that love it.
Apr 23, 2013 6:44PM

I'm in that stage of parenthood right where I am relying on coffee to replace sleep.  I love being a mom.  While i love it doesn't mean its for everyone.  Given the complexities of parenthood I understand if people say it's not for them.  Trust me there are days I wish I could get an extra hour of sleep in.  But that being said there is no explanation for the feeling you have when you bond with your children.  I can't explain to anyone who doesn't have kids yet. 

Apr 23, 2013 6:37PM
I never liked kids..and I had decided to not have any but at the age of 29 I found myself pregnant by my boyfriend of 2 years.. although it was scary I took charge of the situation and just went with the flow.  I figured God gave me a child for a reason.  My little girl is 18 months old now and she is the most amazing person.  I love being her mom  and I feel like it did make me happier.  I didn't realize what I was missing in my life before I had her.  Now I am not saying that I now love everyone else's kids, ha ha..I still find myself annoyed with a majority of them.. but I think if its meant to be then it happens.  I feel like people who complain about having to work full time, etc.. are placing materialistic things first before life.  You don't need that 20,000 dollar car.. or that 200,000 dollar home to be happy.  You just need family and most importantly LOVE.  Life is not worth living if you don't have anyone to share it with.  I have always said, I would rather live in a cardboard box with a man that I love than live in a mansion in a loveless relationship.  Its all what you make of it.  Its all in how you treat the situation you find yourself in.. you can choose to be happy and be happy no matter what life throws at you..remember everybody..only YOU can control your happiness!! 
Apr 23, 2013 6:06PM
There are so many factors that should go into the decision to have children.  In my strong opinion, if you want children and can raise them to become responsible, well educated and productive adults, have as many as you can support.  If you can't properly raise children, please do the world a favor and don't bring any into the world.

As world population continues to grow more people will have fewer and fewer children.  You already see this happening more and more in places like western Europe, Brazil, Japan and the U.S..  Is it selfish not to overburden future generations with more people, certainly not. 

Lastly, I sincerely wish more people would choose to adopt children in need of good parents versus having more of their own children.

Apr 23, 2013 6:03PM

Yes! My wife and I were happy before and now we are HAPPY! Such an amazing time in our lives! From the 9 week ultra sound, hearing his heart beat and seeing him move around.

To take the responsibility to bring another life into the world and raise a child is something we didn't think we would have the opportunity for. Definitely worth every second!

Apr 23, 2013 5:39PM
 That question depends on a lot of things because if one is not entirely happy within themselves, and has children, they know they have responsibilities, but it does not mean the children are bringing them joy.   Sometimes women have very difficult pregnancies, babies being born with unforeseen problems, sickness,  etc.    But I can answer this question, if they behave like Rosemary's Baby, Chucky, or Linda Blair in the Exorcist, HELL NO.
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