Contrary to recent reports, having kids may make a positive impact on levels of adult happiness.
And while both moms and dads noted marked increases in happiness, dads especially seem to be more content than men without kids.
The analysis comes from researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, and her colleagues, who conducted three different studies to determine whether previous research indicating that parents were less happy than their childless peers held true, according to news reports.
In the first study, researchers took a sample of 7,000 Americans to gauge happiness levels. Dads reported both higher levels of positive emotion and more meaning in life than childless men.
In the second study, researchers beeped a group of 329 adults at random times throughout the day to ask how happy they were at that moment. Dads were the most likely to report positive emotions, followed by moms.
A third study asked 186 parents to provide a written play-by-play of their daily activities, noting emotions and meaningful moments. Again, parents won out over those without kids.
Finally, a separate study shows that stay-at-home dads are finding fulfillment in that non-traditional role.
In fact, researchers from the Boston College Center for Work and Family report in a new study, The New Dad: Right at Home, that the arrangement usually benefits the entire family. In-depth interviews with 31 at-home dads revealed that most choose to stay home.
“Contrary to media reports about laid off fathers who re-invent themselves as full-time caregivers, most of the men we interviewed report that being a stay-at-home dad is a choice, not simply a reaction to an unanticipated job loss,” said study author Brad Harrington, Executive Director of the Center for Work and Family, in a press release.
“It’s clear to us that men strongly identify with this as a role. They don’t have a feeling of ambivalence of, What am I doing, I’m a man. There is no sense of angst. These guys strongly identified with being a SAHD. They are proud of it,” he told a major magazine.