Actually, Most People Love Being Parents

“Parenting often is exhausting, and exhaustion sounds like the antithesis of happiness. It wipes you out, the logic goes, and so it’s a problem in need of solutions. A former colleague of mine made this argument in her coverage of the Pew research, arguing that “while caring for children can be exhausting and stressful, that does not have to be its base temperature. […] There’s nothing inevitable about it.”

Maybe. But was there ever a time when parenting wasn’t stressful and exhausting? Just to point out one example, Harvard evolutionary biologist David Haig has hypothesized that babies cry at night and wake up their parents in order to disrupt their mother’s sleep, extend the lactation period, and delay the arrival of another sibling. Sleepless nights aren’t a bug, they’re a feature. We literally evolved to stress out our parents, and we’ve been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years. 

I bring this up to point out that stress and exhaustion probably are inevitable parts of parenting, but that fact doesn’t mean parenting can’t also be rewarding. These aren’t mutually exclusive experiences.”