Terrible twos

Study: New parents struggle emotionally with “continuous and intense nature” of child’s first 2 years of life

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A new study has found that the effect of a new baby on a person’s happiness is worse than divorce, unemployment, and even the death of a spouse. The study was aimed at solving a contradiction: in Germany most couples surveyed say they want two children, but the birthrate in Germany has remained at 1.5 children for 40 years. The study tracked 2,000 initially childless Germans until at least two years after the birth of their first child, asking them to rate their happiness on a scale of zero to 10 in response to the question, “How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?” The average change in well-being for parents of a new child was substantially worse than it was for unemployment or the death of a partner, and the results were neutral across gender. Compounding this was that in the year leading up to a child’s birth, parents typically reported higher life satisfaction, presumably in anticipation of becoming parents. But during the first two years of the baby’s life, about 70 percent of parents reported significantly decreased satisfaction. The worst part of parenting, the study found, is its “continuous and intense nature.” While the results may seem intimidating for potential new parents, the study illustrates the need to support policies such as paid maternity and paternity leave that will aid parents through the difficult early stages of parenthood.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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