07/17/2014 09:26 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Having a Child: Thumbs Up... Or Down?

To have -- or not to have children -- that is the question.

In 2002 (back when people still had jobs and droves of unpaid interns weren't yet returning home to their parents) they studied 909 Texas working women and concluded that parenting is not necessarily a source of happiness. Bottom line was creating babies is not something you should try at home. Out of 19 activities, the women ranked caring for their children sixteenth, preferring housework, exercising, preparing food and watching TV. I was shocked as this was before Breaking Bad!

Those findings were challenged by two professors, Chris M. Herbst of Arizona State University and John Ifcher at Santa Clara University, who presented a paper at the annual Population Conference of America titled, "A Bundle of Joy: Does Parenting Really Make you Miserable?" It asserted that being a parent is a source of happiness, reporting that a study from 1972 to 2008 found that the happiness level of parents has remained constant while the childless have become less happy.

Before you rush off to make babies, be aware of a Gallup survey of 1.8 million Americans conducted from 2008 to 2012 and published by Princeton University and Stony Brook University in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that disputed both earlier findings, claiming there was "very little difference" between parents and the childless so far as life satisfaction (once income, education, religion and health had been factored out). The one difference they did uncover was that parents experienced more highs and lows.

Most of us don't decide to become a parent because of a study. Thoughtful adults, we appreciate that having a child is a major step, one of the greatest risks we take (I'm factoring out playing football and texting while driving). It's way iffier than or ordering online. I haven't seen a study, but if we're pushed along at all, it's probably because of hearing "So, when are we doing to have a grandchild?" and those daughters on Louie.


I have done a study (sample is a lot smaller than the others), but my findings show that parents and grandparents love receiving a gift of a handmade, mosaic frame to display a photo of the child.