Posts Tagged ‘children’

Teaching, Parenting, Happiness, and Dogma

What popular activity leads to a statistically significant drop in personal happiness, drastically reduces leisure time, and decreases romantic satisfaction? Parenting, of course. We engage in other activities that are, in general, displeasing, but they are often a means to a greater end: We endure traffic or crowded public transportation to live in a neighborhood that better suits our lifestyle, or we work to earn money to sustain that lifestyle. That’s not to say that driving home or working universally reduce people’s happiness—but, when it does, it’s generally for a clearly more desirable end. Not so with raising children. Child-rearing or creation is supposed to, in itself, generate the sort of transcendental happiness that makes it all worth it. New York Magazine’s Jennifer Senior questions the dogma of parenting as a universal good.

Why is there such a dogma? Surely the reverence most religions accord to raising and bearing—well, sometimes just bearing—children plays some role. Maybe parents are aware of the negative effect of children on their happiness level, but merely follow the broader trend of embracing altruistic acts as the ultimate good—the epitome of which is committing most of your life to another human or two. But, perhaps something else not unique to parenting is at work.

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A Brief but Common Scene at the Contemporary Cinema

The hordes line up at the box office, awaiting a ticket, or several, from the overburdened cinema employee. Children beg their mothers for candy to accompany their popcorn. The mother subtly forwards the child’s plea to the father. Half an hour passes. An enterprising young individual approaches one of the three lineless automated kiosks to purchase her ticket. The hordes turn to look at the enterprising young woman, confused and unsure of whether they should be envious. The enterprising young woman purchases her ticket and proceeds to the theater. The hordes figure if everyone else is staying idle, it can’t make sense to approach the kiosk. The hordes remain.