We've said it before: Taking some time for yourself as a parent is important. But we might have spoken too soon, according to a new study out by Dutch and Canadian researchers.
After examining over 300 parents who had children under 18 living at home, the researchers found that by investing time and money into their children, the parents were actually happier than those who invested more into their own well-being.
The two studies looked at survey results assessing happiness levels according to their parenting and their children in general, and a deep examination of a normal day's activities—what they did, how it made them feel, what made them feel the best? Researchers found that the parents who were most involved in their kid's lives were the happiest, had fewer negative feelings and "felt their lives had more meaning during child care."
Another surprising result of the study was that even when parents weren't focusing on their kids, those feelings of happiness didn't go away. And that feeling of resentment that is often talked about? It simply wasn't there.
The study's lead author said, "The consequences of child-focused forms of parenting for the well-being of parents have been a source of heated debate in the popular media, largely in the absence of research. These findings suggest that the more care and attention people give to others, the more happiness and meaning they experience."
While this is only one study with one set of results, we can't help but pause and think. If selflessly helping out others or giving to a charity makes us feel better, why wouldn't focusing on our children over ourselves produce the same effect of happiness and contentment? We sure get a warm, fuzzy feeling every time we volunteer at a soup kitchen, give up our seat on the bus for a pregnant woman or hold the door for 10 people before walking through ourselves. Really, it makes sense if you think about it...