“Though the measure does not capture the respondents’ overall experience of having the child, it is preferable to direct questions about childbearing because it is considered taboo for new parents to say negative things about a new child”, Myrskylä and Margolis wrote in their study.
Gender did not seem to pose as a differentiating factor, and study has uncovered three possible reasons why parents discard the idea of having the previously expressed want for a second child: the physical discomfort of mothers, the fathers’ worries for their partner’s wellbeing, and the couple’s general exhaustion.
The findings of the study were meant to demythicize the blissful, entirely happy image of parenthood and to point out that it might affect people in a very different manner, as the differences in happiness levels reported by the study participants varied from 0 to 3 or more points.
The study, published in the journal Demography, followed 2,016 initially childless Germans until at least two years after the birth of their first child.
Firstly, it would be reasonable to surmise than an improvement in the delivery of maternity services could positively impact the likelihood of a woman choosing to have two or more children.
The results help explain the low German fertility rate, researchers note.
The study also suggests couples who perceive a drop in happiness after becoming new parents, could be less likely to have a second child.
Talking about both parenthood and childfree lifestyles is in vogue these days, and it’s hardly surprising that new parents reported states of disgruntlement.
Around 30% of the participants reported themselves to be just as happy as they were before having children.
A year after having a baby, however, the levels of happiness among the parents were shown to have dropped significantly.
And they found that people are usually pretty happy before having kids.
“Parents’ experience with and after the first birth help predict how large the family will be eventually,” said Mikko Myrskylä. So many parents of grown children will say a wistful “it goes by so fast” while you’re in the throes of diaper changes and sleepless nights that there develops an understanding that there’s more to it than your happiness level on any particular day.
“Among parents who did not feel a reduction in happiness, 66 out of 100 couples had another baby,” Rachel Margolis said. The first two had to do with health.
In the study, the challenges of parenthood were divided into three categories that affected the urge to reproduce again.
According to biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, the social aloofness created by the demands of parenthood can cause more unhappiness than losing your spouse or your livelihood. “The medical profession is starting to acknowledge this, and postpartum depression is getting more and more attention, but it’s still something that, compared to many other events in life, is thought of as something that can be and should be only experienced positively.”