Thursday, July 3, 2008

Children and Marriage

While roaming around the Internet I came across and article about children and marriage. According to the the newest findings, childless couples are happier than those with children. For the article see Newsweek

So there are some valid reasons for the findings--especially in the last forty or fifty years. Economics have no doubt played a big part in the change. When I was growing up most women stayed home and raised their children. Money, while tight, stretched a little farther. And expectations by all the members of the family were lower.

And then the sixties and seventies rolled around and more women went out into the workplace. Expectations changed. There were more people keeping up with the Jones' and the Smiths and the Cooks and suddenly a one working parent was no longer an option.

Economics changed. Credit card debt swelled. And in the race for bigger and better, we found ourselves in a spiraling roller-coaster of child care issues, career paths, and divorce courts.

No wonder we aren't happy. Children are the one thing we can't push aside at the end of the work day. Spouses can be put off or ignored, but children have to be fed and bathed and supervised. When parents are too tired to move the last thing they want to do is take care of kids.

I wonder what kind of questions the survey asked? If they just asked a straight question--Are you happy? Well... don't you think it depends on what day of the week it is? Happy in relation to what?

I suspect that whether or not we are happy with our children depends on what we believe we have to do to make them happy. And I'm wondering why that is. When did we start believing that we had to provide every little thing in life? One Mother's Day my son gave a small talk in church about what a terrible parent I was. It went something like this:

"I have the worst mother in the world. She made me clean my room. She made me do my laundry. She made me go to school everyday. She expected me to do my best in school. She made me stay in school until I graduated.

She was soooo mean. She refused to give me a car for my sixteenth birthday. Actually, she refused to let me get my driver's license until I was eighteen, had enough money to buy my own car, and could pay for my own insurance.

She wouldn't let me run around all hours of the night. I had a curfew until I finally had to move out to do what I wanted to do. It was rough, but I lasted until I was twenty.

When I lived at home I had to do the dishes and take out the trash. Once I had a job I had to pay for part of the groceries, all of my own clothes, and my own car expenses.

I tell you, she was the meanest mom in our town. She was so mean that she gave me underwear and socks for Christmas. She wouldn't even allow me to cuss in the house.

When I have kids of my own, I plan to be just like her."

Perhaps... if we aren't happy, we only have ourselves to blame.



  1. Your son is very smart but then he might get that smartness from his mom. What a wonderful Mother's Day gift! You have a beautiful family, Anny.

    I am guilty of doing far too much for my kids. I adore them but often wonderful if I'm a sucky mother because I do more than I should, ya know? Maybe I should just learn to let go a little bit and just breathe. They would be happy and I'm sure I would too.

    Thanks for the post. Made me think.

  2. Happiness is not something that can be measured by a survey so I take those findings skeptically.

    My mother was exactly like you - made us learn how to look after ourselves and be capable. I am thankful for that every day

  3. From one 'mean mom' to another, I raise my glass to you:) My jaw drops when I hear moms getting bent out of shape because their toddler or pre-teen screams 'I hate you!'

    The first time I heard those words after being tough about doing chores, I thought, 'Good; I'm doing my job!'

    If we don't raise productive members of society, the world will be in serious trouble in several years. We're already paying for some mistakes!

    Great post, Anny:)

  4. This one brought tears to my eyes. You did a wonderful job as a Mom and, although they're grown now, you still "mother" them quite well.


  5. Your son is a very smart man. You must be very proud of him and the job you did of raising him to be that way.