In a new contribution to the debate over the relationship between happiness and parenting, psychologist Ellen Walker proposes five explanations for her finding that childfree people are happier than parents. Here they are in her words:
1. It’s easier for childfree adults to stay physically healthy.
2. Childfree adults have an easier time holding onto a youthful attitude.
3. Childfree women have an easier time keeping their girlish figures than women who have borne children.
4. Childfree couples are happier than couples with kids.
5. All that free time actually is a good thing.
Numbers 2 and 5 in particular go against the societal grain. We generally prize maturity and castigate childishness, and as for busyness, complaining about how little free time one has is practically a form of bragging, at least here in New York City. But a youthful attitude is not the same thing as childishness, and having free time doesn’t mean one doesn’t contribute to society. Walker’s thought-provoking analysis is brief and worth a read.