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New Study Finds That Being A Parent Makes People Happier, But Not Until After The Kids Move Out

by Kelly Glass
Kelly Glass is a writer whose work focuses on the intersections of parenting, health, and pop culture. She lives in an Illinois college town with her educator husband, wildly ambitious sons, dog, and several fish. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Romper, BlackGirlNerds.com, HelloGiggles, Oxygen.com, What to Expect, and more.

Parenting — it’s one of life’s greatest joys. According to a new study, though, you have to wait until the kids fly the nest to experience said joy.

Researchers at Heidelberg University in Germany came to this conclusion after studying 55,000 people in 16 countries. The data came from the “Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe” database, based on parents who are now 50 and older.

Suggesting that parenthood makes people happier as they age might seem controversial, but it makes sense. One reason could be that parents see their adult children as a form of social support. Researcher Christoph Becker told CNN that “having a social network corresponds to greater life satisfaction, but that doesn’t have to come from children.” Hence, children’s roles as caregivers, financial support, or simply as social contacts might outweigh negative aspects of parenthood.

This isn’t the first time researchers have come to this conclusion. In a 2018 study, University of Utah researcher Nicholas Wolfinger analyzed 40 years of data and found that empty-nest parents ages 50 to 70 were slightly more likely to report being very happy than parents of the same age with children still living at home.

Arguably, though, this finding is probably not a good reason to kick the kids out of the house before they’re ready. A 2013 study found little difference in happiness between parents with adult children at home and without.

Watch the video to find out more about this fascinating study!

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