Are You Looking After Your Two Selves?

Check out this following graph:

marital satisfaction in couples over the lifespanmarital satisfaction

What do you notice?

In the April edition of the online Journal of the British Psychological Association, researcher Nattavudh Powdthavee, of the University of York in Great Britain (whose own academic work concludes that there is no difference between the life satisfaction levels of parents and non-parents) summarizes the existing studies:

Using data sets from Europe and America, numerous scholars have found some evidence that, on aggregate, parents often report statistically significantly lower levels of happiness (Alesina et al., 2004), life satisfaction (Di Tella et al., 2003), marital satisfaction (Twenge et al., 2003) and mental well-being (Clark & Oswald, 2002) compared with non-parents.

But if you ask most people if they regretted having children, the majority would not agree that they have. If you ask them if their life has more meaning or purpose than it had before their children came along. Sure, they have less free time, less money, more conflict and more housework, but more meaning and purpose.


Published by Dr Damon Ashworth

I am a Clinical Psychologist. I completed a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Monash University and a Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences and a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences with Honours at La Trobe University. I am passionate about the field of Psychology, and apply the latest empirical findings to best help individuals meet their psychological and emotional needs.

4 thoughts on “Are You Looking After Your Two Selves?

  1. I don’t know, Damon. I think some people may not be telling the truth, especially because the study is kind of a self-report. No one wants to admit that maybe, just maybe, they would’ve been happier without children lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I guess the tricky part is about how people keep their narrative self happy without children in their lives? Their moment-to-moment happiness might be higher, but are they as satisfied with how things have turned out over time? The World Regret Survey asked over 19,000 people about their biggest regrets and didn’t identify too many people that said they regretted having children looking back at their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

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