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Making parenthood a positive experience

One possible way of making parenthood more positive would require people to rationally think about the pros and cons of parenthood before they consider having children. This may make assumptions about children as bearers of happiness or solutions to loneliness and bad relationships, less likely. This is because many theorists believe that parenthood is likely to be a more positive experience if people’s anticipations of rare positive experiences do not over-power their expectations of the more frequently occurring difficult times (1, 2 &3).

Other researchers alternatively suggest that people should reconsider their parenting styles in order to make the experience more positive.   The evolutionary psychologist and author of several works including the article ‘Why parenthood makes us unhappy’, Satoshi Kanazawa argues that today, children are being raised “in a wholly unnatural environment, in an entirely unnatural manner, relative to our ancestral environment” (4). He emphasises that biologically, puberty marks the end of childhood, meaning that girls are biologically programmed to find leave home and find a mate while boys strive to establish their economic worth as a means of attracting a partner. This has however changed in modern society. Instead we have what Kanazawa refers to as, “artificially prolonged childhood called ‘adolescence’ when the children are biologically adults but socially and legally still children” (5).

Kanazawa believes that this could explain why teenagers become rebellious. His argues that their behaviour arises from the fact that adolescents are not biologically wired to expect economic support and social control beyond puberty.

 Modern society also appears to emphasise the notion of perfectionism in everything we do including parenting. It is no longer all right to be a good mother, you must be a super parent. For instance, when shopping for toys, you don’t simply buy any toy rather you buy those that will intellectually stimulate your baby’s brain. This constant worry and fuss about every small aspect may explain why parents today are much more stressed than before. Undoubtedly any parent trying to enrol their unborn child in a particular kindergarten, buying special toys, constantly worry and controlling every aspect of their child’s life is unlikely to find parenting a very positive experience as they will be too cautious.  Parents need to understand that there is a difference between genuinely being concerned about the child’s well-being and simply writing the child’s life out for them.

It appears that anyone considering parenthood needs to understand that parenting is not easy. We should then ask ourselves, is happiness the only goal in your life? Do you want to go through life unchallenged, unencumbered and leaving no trace of your existence? If your answer is ‘yes’, then perhaps children are not for you. But if, like most people, you want to feel challenged, leave something behind and be useful, then perhaps the work invested in parenthood will show its rewards to you.

References    

(1). Ramey, G. Do children make you happy? Retrieved 2009-07-17 from:
http://www.childrensdayton.org/Health_Topics/Parenting_News/Do_children_make_you_happy.html

(2). Derdikman-Eiron, R. (2009). Think parenting is about happiness? The Psychologist, 22, 370-371.

(3). Powdthavee, N. (2009). Think having children will make you happy? The Psychologist, 22 308-311.

(4). Kanazawa, S. (2008). Why parenthood makes us unhappy? Retrieved 2009-07-22 from:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200808/remaining-puzzle-11-why-parenthood-makes-us-unhappy

(5). Kanazawa, S. (2008). Why parenthood makes us unhappy? Retrieved 2009-07-22 from:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200808/remaining-puzzle-11-why-parenthood-makes-us-unhappy

 
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