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Family Trifecta
Placing my bets on Family, Faith and Fun - in that order. Fingers crossed I win the Trifecta!
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Family Trifecta

Being a Parent – Joy or Pain?

I look around at all of the mothers and fathers that I know.  I look at them and wonder if they are truly “happy” in their life and their situation.  As I look, I think back to something that Matthew Townsend shared during the Casual Bloggers Conference back in May.   It makes me think.  It makes me wonder.  It makes me compare.

Right now, no matter what stage of life we are in, shouldn’t we be able to find the joy? the happiness?  As an adult without children, shouldn’t the day be filled with fun activities and doing things you can’t do with a child?  As a parent to a newborn, shouldn’t the day be filled with cuddles, feeding and sleeping?  As a parent to young children, shouldn’t every day be filled with laughter?  As a parent to teenagers, shouldn’t the day be filled with activities, sports, homework?  As a parent to grown children, shouldn’t the day be filled enjoying our children as friends?  For most of us, none of those descriptions fit how real life is.

On July 4th, New York Magazine published an article called “All Joy and No Fun” and just a few days before, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints released this video…

Today, the “Today Show” spotlighted the article from the New York Magazine with this video.

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As you know, I’m a full time work outside of the home mom and wife.  It makes me very sad to read or listen to things that put parenthood in a negative or depressed light.

Meridith said during the Today Show, “studies show that a bundle of joy might not bring the happiness many parents expect to feel. in a 2004 survey of 900 working women, a majority ranked napping, preparing food, and housework as substantially more pleasurable than child care. last year the journal of happiness published a study which found that the effects of children on the life satisfaction of married individuals is small, often negative, and never statistically significant. this sentiment of discontent is broadly echoed by mothers on the web, at urbanbaby.com, a post reads, i swear, i feel like i’m surrounded by women who were once smart and interesting. but have become zombies who only talk about soccer and coupons.”

This makes me sad.  It disturbs me.  Because I believe it is true.

Matt Townsend said that with every child brought into a family, marital satisfaction decreases.  Studies are showing that parents are less happy than their childless counterparts.  Shouldn’t it be the opposite?  Why is it that these beautiful bundles of joy are making parents sad? discouraged? frustrated? feeling like they are alone? overwhelmed?

“I love my kids but not my life” is a phrase most of us have uttered under our breath and possibly shouted from the rooftops.

On Today’s Mom, they did a survey.  The question was “Did having a child make you unhappy?” There have been over 5000 votes so far.  Here are the results…


38.1%
Yes. I do love my children, but I can’t say I’m happier than I was before having them.
1,901 votes
31.2%
No. Having kids is hard, but the joy they bring is immeasurable.
1,556 votes
30.6%
Most of the time. I tell people that being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever have, but it’s also the most rewarding.
1,527 votes

How would you vote?

So how can we change this?  We are always going to have to deal with the “chores” involved in being a parent.  For the bulk of the time that there are children in the home, we will be convincing them to read, do homework, turn off the computer, play outside, practice their music, be nice to their siblings, not talk back, be kind to others and the list goes on.   How can we make all of the chores of parenting fun so that more of us can smile when we talk about being a parent?  Is there a chance for us to look at parenting as a pleasure not a duty?  What do we need to change as a society to remember that children are the greatest blessing we could possibly be given?

My blog title is “The Family Trifecta”.  I believe that in order to win the trifecta, we need to be able to find joy in parenting as often as possible.  It is my goal.  It is my challenge.

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14 comments to Being a Parent – Joy or Pain?

  • I have to admit, this is something that weighs heavily on my mind, not being a parent yet. It’s a big fear of mine. I’ve had a lot of friends who were happy before children, and have struggled since. I’ve had friends tell me they never fought with their husband, until the kids came.

    Adam and I have a very, very good relationship now. But what I’ve realized is that we just are going to have to work on things. Make time for each other and communication.
    Kristina P.´s last blog post ..Giveaway Winners And Losers

    [Reply]

    Amy
    Twitter: familytrifecta
    Reply:

    I have a feeling that when you are parents your relationship will grow closer because you realize now that it will be something to work on.

    [Reply]

  • Holly
    Twitter: HJPix

    I like your insight and agree. I also think that people are too caught up in thinking that life is all about ALWAYS being happy. It’s not! We have to be more realistic and realize that life IS the roller-coaster that GRANDMA talks about in Parenthood (same movie they did a clip of in the TODAY video…) That Trifecta has to be WOVEN together to bring the most joy. You can’t separate them. And if you don’t experience the trials, you won’t appreciate the joys for what they are, or even find joy in the things you otherwise would.
    Holly´s last blog post ..Writers Workshop- Opinion on Kyron Headline

    [Reply]

    Amy
    Twitter: familytrifecta
    Reply:

    You are so right, it comes down to the opposition in all things and that the only way to know the happiness is to also know the challenges 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Stephanie
    Twitter: stephsday

    I’ve watched these studies come out and they break my heart. I think many people struggle to find joy in parenting because they want to have the life they had BEFORE kids…AFTER kids. Does that make sense?

    Before kids, they worked long hours, went to the gym, saw all of the latest movies, did things whenever they pleased – and then they try to keep that same exact life alive while raising kids (which causes all kinds of stress).

    Couple that with the fact that our culture devalues children…and we have some pretty miserable parents.

    Although things certainly aren’t perfect or “easy” all of the time, both Tim and I would say that we are truly – deeply – profoundly…happy. We love parenthood and we want to have more children. A big part of our Joy comes from the fact that we consciously chose to let go of trying to have the exact same life as we did “before” and we embraced our new life w/ gusto. And it is BETTER than before now. Much better.

    I may not be explaining this right, but…I just wanted to be sure to comment and say that I do think children can bring immeasurable joy and satisfaction (because it happened…is happening…to us).
    Stephanie´s last blog post ..I’m a BIG spender I am

    [Reply]

    Amy
    Twitter: familytrifecta
    Reply:

    one of the things that I admire about you and your comment is that you really do see that life is supposed to be different with kids and that you can’t expect to have both worlds at one time. I also think it is great that you made it a decision to embrace your life.

    [Reply]

  • Brandie
    Twitter: rudyrukus

    Well although sometimes I don’t think parenting is the best job I have ever had I DO believe it makes me happier than I have EVER been. It also makes me feel more stressed out and tired. But I realized a long time before I had children it would be a very hard but important job! I already scheduled this video to post on Sunday on my blog. How funny.
    Brandie´s last blog post ..5 Things Moms Still Have to do on Vacation

    [Reply]

  • Having had things both ways (with a great paying job + no kids, then no paying job + kids), I have to admit I like my life better now. There’s definitely bumps along the way, I won’t lie there. As a parent, it’s tough at times but at the end of the day it’s worth it to me. I agree with Brandie, I am also happier than I have ever been as a mom. Parent or not a parent, I strongly believe happiness (for most people) is a choice. I think the right attitude makes a big difference.
    Catherine´s last blog post ..Cool product alert – ClearPlay

    [Reply]

    Amy
    Twitter: familytrifecta
    Reply:

    Catherine- I love your comment and I also appreciate the separate note that you sent me as well. I absolutely agree that happiness is a choice.

    [Reply]

  • First of all, I’m intrigued that there is something called the Journal of Happiness!!

    Second, parenting isn’t easy. It can be tedious and difficult and often unrewarding. Then there are the times it all seems worth it. But I think it is an important part of growing up — when you become a parent, it forces you (often for the first time) to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. It does make things difficult. You often don’t get to focus on what makes YOU happy. You do sacrifice. But I often thing that the same sacrifices were made for me by my parent. And the moments when it all comes together — when you can the see the person that your son or daughter is becoming — all the bad seems to melt away and you feel so proud and like you accomplished something really worthwhile. I’m guessing that there isn’t much else in the world that is worth as much.

    Wonderful thought-provoking post.
    Jenners´s last blog post ..Writers Workshop- In Which I Become A Blowhard

    [Reply]

    Amy
    Twitter: familytrifecta
    Reply:

    I really like how you said that it forces us to put someone else’s needs before our own. I think those that are experiencing it for the first time might be the ones that struggle a little bit more than someone who has already learned that other’s needs are important.

    [Reply]

  • I completely agree with you. Funny enough, I chose the same topic to write about this week.

    http://deniseisrundmt.com/2010/07/15/on-the-contrary-i-love-my-children-i-love-my-life/

    I remember when I was single, I had girlfriends who thought they would be happy if they had a boyfriend or they were married. As any married couple will tell you, a happy, balanced marriage requires work. The same holds true for children.

    Bottom line, as adults we need to be responsible for our own happiness. To rest our happiness on the shoulders of our children is impractical and unfair. My children bring me such joy and I am in a happy place in my life, because my husband and I work to keep it that way.
    Run DMT´s last blog post ..On the Contrary- I Love My Children I Love My Life

    [Reply]

  • Amy
    Twitter: familytrifecta

    it always makes me sad when I hear people say, “I’ll be happy when…” because it really just shows they aren’t making the choice to enjoy their current situation. It takes a lot of work. Sometimes more work than we feel we are able to give.

    hoping over to your post now.

    [Reply]

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