What's Worse Than Divorce and Death? Apparently Parenthood

What's Worse Than Divorce and Death? Apparently Parenthood

"How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?"

If you've had a baby recently, your reply may be: not very.

That's according to an eye-opening study that followed 2,016 German participants from when they were childless to when they welcomed home that so-called bundle of joy.

They were repeatedly asked to rate their happiness from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied).


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And the verdict?

Turns out your budget isn't the only area of your life that takes a big hit when you bring home baby. Parenthood caused the average sense of well-being to drop by 1.4 points.

It's about as bad as things can get: Previous studies found that divorce only caused a 0.6 dip in happiness and even losing a job or the death of a partner only had a 1.0 impact.

These serious baby blues highlight the disconnect many of us experience between parenthood as an idea and a reality.

In the year leading up to bringing home baby, the study's parents-to-be felt an uptick in happiness—you know, the excitement that can come with decorating a nursery, picking out a name, and sharing hopes and dreams for your little one.

But those thrills seem to be fleeting. Only about 30% of new mothers and fathers reported a continued or increased level of happiness following the baby's arrival. Gender, interestingly, was not a factor.

Among the other 70%, new parents cited a laundry list of complaints including sleep deprivation, domestic isolation, and relationship breakdown. Don't be surprised if siblings were unlikely to follow.

This sort of emotional rollercoaster now awaits Millennials who, after years of putting off major milestones, are starting to embrace marriage and parenthood.

And the two go increasingly together, at least in the U.S., where demographers expect that ultimately around 60% of the children of Millennials will be born to married parents, up from around 45% today.

Expecting a new addition to your family in the future? Here's how to make sure you're financially prepared to bring home baby.


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