Posted by Peter Lawler
...OR, more precisely, having a child. Additional offspring don’t increase parental happiness. If sociobiology were simply true, our social instincts wouldn’t reward such a risky approach to gene spreading.
If we have an "instinct" to actually have a child, it is pretty weak...else our fertility levels could not have dropped like a rock in the last 100 years. Rather, we have a strong sexual drive, which (in the old days) took care of business quite nicely.
I don't know anyone who has children for the purpose of "gene-spreading." Neither does it seem a sustaining vision for the long hard haul of child-rearing.
And I wonder at the quantification of happiness in this study. Where did the researcher get the happyometer?
Which is probably a quibble, but some of us women find a maternal euphoria in the company of children. I did and do. It is easier to settle into and enjoy a child when a job or other outside worries are not pressing. I am so grateful to my husband that I did not have competing priorities while raising our children. I am thinking about this lately as I juggle job, daughter, and other responsibilities while I help care for my infant granddaughter. Her mother struggles in the hospital to come back from near death following a medical error in a fairly routine procedure. My daughter-in-law's maternal euphoria urges her back into an engagement with life, although she is too weak to hold her child.
Anyway, some of us find more pleasure in some things than others. Some of us are better at some things than others. Being good at something gives pleasure. If you are good at parenting and can give yourself to it, the diminishing marginal rate of return slopes more gradually.
My son, having to take on more of the actual child care, seems to be taking more delight in his daughter than he did before. Perhaps involvement in the process raises your level of happiness in your private genetic product?
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