There is no shortage of media and societal messages defining “parenting” as an aspirational, adult goal and one that that will make couples happier together. But a growing body of research suggests that the opposite is true, and that despite those social media photos showing the ‘happy family’, that many parents find the job hard, boring, and have difficulty adjusting. In fact many couples rate the first few years after having children, some of the hardest in their relationship as a couple. It might explain why separation rates are so high at that time as discrepancies in values and practices are combined with a lack of sleep and feeling stretched. This article highlights research into why many adults (and mothers in particular) are less happy than they expected they would be in their role as parent. Those reasons include the continued, gendered imbalance in emotional and physical labour, a lack of societal supports, “mother-shaming”. The author writes:
“Mothers are frequently made to feel guilty about not being happy, or not being happy enough, and a plethora of parenting books, websites and programmes offer advice on how to be a happier and a better parent.
However, research consistently points out that the key problem is not mothers’ individual or psychological failure to be happy. Rather, the fundamental factors that mediate the relationship between individual wellbeing and happiness and parenting are structural and institutional. In particular, the endemic overwork culture, on the one hand, and the absence of social policies and dwindling resources to protect parents and families, on the other, have detrimental effects on parents’ wellbeing”. Are you looking for more balance and contentment as a parent? Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Counselling can help.