Are Parents Happier than Childless Couples? Or Is It the Other Way Around?

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Does having children make you more satisfied with your life and relationship? Or is it the other way around - being childless is a better choice if you want happiness? Or is it that whichever relates to us we believe to be better?

    I have five children (yours, mine and ours). They have brought their share of tears, laughter, sorrow and joy into my life. I can’t imagine life without them. There are many single women and couples I know who do not have children. I watch as they pick up and go off on a trip or simply go out to dinner without the concern of leaving children at home, finding a babysitter. They like the freedom that being childless brings. Some part of me wonders what that would be like. And, when my day is filled with driving to activities, helping with homework and solving the latest teen crisis without ever getting around to me, I have to admit, I am a bit envious. Even so, I don’t think I would trade my life for one without children.

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    Studies have shown mixed results when trying to measure happiness in life and relationships - with and without children. An article on, for example, found that whether or not your were happy with children depended on several factors. They found:

    • Young parents (between the ages of 17 and 25) were more unhappy than empty nesters
    • Fathers, married partners and empty nesters indicated a high level of satisfaction with their life
    • All parents, regardless of age, reported having more meaning in their life than those without children

    Another study focused more on satisfaction with relationships and found that heterosexual parents were least likely to spend and make time with one another. Couples without children were generally more satisfied in their relationships than those with children. Gay couples were more positive and happier with their relationships than any other group.

    Maybe not so surprisingly, mothers indicated they were significantly happier with life than any other group but also were less likely to be satisfied with their partner. Almost three-fourths of mothers in the survey were more likely to state their child was the most important person in their life. Less than half of the fathers chose their child as the most important person.

    Parenthood brings its share of ups and downs. It causes pain at the same time as it gives us a purpose in our life. Parenthood is constant. You don’t get a day off, you stay a parent forever. But, just as parenthood is exhausting, it is exhilarating. According to the article on, 94 percent of parents say that despite the costs - emotionally and physically - of having children, it is worth it.

    With studies showing such mixed results, there isn’t any clear answer to whether or not having children makes you happy. In the end, it is an individual and personal decision, it is looking at your life and deciding what is best for you.


    “Do Children Bring Happiness - or Misery?” 2013, Aug 1, Sonja Lyubomirsky,

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    “The Key to a Happy Relationship,” Be Gay, Or Childless. Or Make Tea,” 2014, Jan 14, Richard Garner, The Independent

Published On: January 20, 2014