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6 Things You Wished You Knew Before Your First Kid

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A trend occurred in the early 20th century when many Americans moved away from rural areas and into urban centers. For the first time ever, their children ceased to become economic assets capable of contributing to the family's prosperity and started to become a financial burden. And yet, in spite of this daunting reality, Americans continued to produce offspring at nearly historic rates for the next 50 to 75 years. What was their motivation? Surely it was more than just a desire to accumulate mountains of fingerpaint art. Come along as we explore 6 of the top 10 hidden benefits of having children.

Children Lower Your Blood Pressure
A recent study conducted at Brigham Young University found that parenthood may actually help lower your blood pressure. Researchers at the school hooked up 200 married men and women to blood pressure monitors for 24 hours and found that couples with children had significantly lower blood-pressure readings than those without offspring. "While caring for children may include daily hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life's stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes," says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead researcher. "This doesn't mean the more kids you have, the better your blood pressure. The findings are simply tied to parenthood, no matter the number of children or employment status."

Children Entitle You To Major Tax Savings
It used to be the only way you could make money off of your children was by sending them into the coal mines. But now, thanks to the IRS, your children allow you to qualify for some very valuable tax savings -- a notable hidden benefit of having children. According to one recently published study, the average family can save $3,500 per year simply by claiming child tax credits, education credits, and child- and dependent-care credits. "These tax credits shouldn't spur you to have a child," says U.S. tax attorney Roni Deutch, "but since the projected cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is just shy of $200,000, parents need all the help they can get."

Children Get You Better Parking

Shopping with children is seldom easy, but there is one enormous perk to taking your rug rat to the mall: better parking. Many shopping centers, grocery stores and factory outlets now have parking spaces reserved especially for families and pregnant women. Not only are these spots conveniently located, but they're also usually vacant. As an added bonus, you can also drive in the HOV lane on your way to the store since even the smallest newborn legally counts as a full-fledged passenger.

Children Keep You Sane
Contrary to popular belief, children don't always drive their parents crazy. In fact, researchers at Taiwan's Mental Health Foundation claim they may even keep their parents sane well beyond their years. The organization recently interviewed 1,084 randomly selected senior citizens and found that seniors with no children scored 6.4 points lower on a mental health questionnaire than elderly subjects with children. "The results shows that people who have children are happier and have greater satisfaction and emotional well-being than those without children," says Tom Yang, the study's lead researcher.

Children Renew Your Thirst For Knowledge
Anyone who has children can attest that their child's favorite word is "why." Kids constantly want to know the answer to a variety of head-scratching questions like, "Why do a cat's eyes shine in the dark?", "Why does it smell so fresh after it rains?" and "Why do Mommy and Daddy always lock their bedroom door on Tuesday nights?" You may not have the answer to all of these queries (well, two-thirds of them anyhow), but they're sure to get your wheels turning as you attempt to formulate a plausible-sounding response. As your children get older, you'll also get to brush up on your education by relearning your multiplication tables, the names of every state bird and the capital of Liechtenstein (it's Vaduz, in case you were wondering).

Children Make You Sexier
Think puppies are the ultimate chick magnet? Think again. Any father will tell you there's no better way of attracting attention from the fairer sex than by strolling through a park with an adorable baby. Heck, even an ugly baby will do the trick, since most women are responding more to the father's sense of dedication and maturity than they are to the fruit of his loins. Who knew that a $200 stroller could elicit more oohs and aahs than a $200,000 sports car?

Curious to see if there are really four more benefits to having children? We swear we're not lying. Check out the rest at AskMen.

This article was originally published on AskMen. Photo credit: Lies Thru a Lens/Flickr