Free Labor Or Bundles Of Joy?

Mar 9 2011 @ 9:05am

The Dish has already debated the connection between parenting and happiness at length. But a new paper goes further and argues that parents exaggerate the emotional rewards of parenting because children are no longer economically beneficial: 

In an earlier time, kids actually had economic value; they worked on farms or brought home paychecks, and they didn’t cost that much. Not coincidentally, emotional relationships between parents and children were less affectionate back then. As the value of children has diminished, and the costs have escalated, the belief that parenthood is emotionally rewarding has gained currency. In that sense, the myth of parental joy is a modern psychological phenomenon.

Wilkinson adds:

This is testable. We could ask people in poorer places, where kids are still a productive asset to their parents, about the emotional rewards of parenthood. I bet Eibach and Mock are right.