A new national survey from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center reports that strong majority of parents in America are experiencing notable levels of isolation, loneliness and burnout stemming from the demands of parenthood.

A press release from Wexner Medical Center reports,

  • “About two-thirds (66%) felt the demands of parenthood sometimes or frequently feels isolating and lonely.
  • About 62% feel burned out by their responsibilities as a parent.
  • Nearly two in five (38%) feel they have no one to support them in their parenting role.
  • Nearly four in five (79%) would value a way to connect with other parents outside of work and home.”

Kate Gawlik, associate clinical professor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, and a researcher on parental burnout and a mother of four young children explains in the press release, “Parenting can feel very lonely at times, but it will be easier if you have people around who can support you.”

Gawlik actually points out why married parenting is best.

While this is one study showing the loneliness of parents, the larger body of social science research has generally shown that parenting brings meaningful and measurable life happiness.

Married Parents Are Happier

University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox amply documents in his new book, Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization, that “married parents are happier with their lives than their married peers who are childless, especially after they have moved beyond the age associated with challenges posed by young children.”

Yes, children are work. They make big demands on us. They rob us of our sleep and they drain our pocket books. But on the whole, they are a smarter life investment because they bring greater happiness and purpose to our lives.

As a result, as Wilcox explains, compared to all other adults living situations, “married adults with children are happiest.”

This truth is revealed in this research-based chart.

Wilcox tells us,

Specifically, 82 percent of married dads and 86 percent of married moms are “very” or “pretty happy,” according to a recent survey. But only 68 percent of husbands and 78 percent of wives without children report an equivalent level of happiness. Both married fathers and mothers are happier than their childless married peers. These happiness premiums persist after controls for race, education, gender, age, and income.

Professor Wilcox adds, “To wit: the happiest group of American men and women in their prime (eighteen to fifty-five) are those who are married with children” [emphasis in original]. He concludes, “It is no longer the case that parents are more miserable than their childless peers.”

The Daily Citizen has reported on this married, parenting happiness premium before.

The gold-standard of social science research, the General Social Science Survey (GSS), has demonstrated this fact. The Institute for Family Studies reported last year that “the 2022 edition of the General Social Survey (GSS) — the nation’s preeminent social barometer — reveals that marriage and family are strongly associated with happiness.” They tell us “that a combination of marriage and parenthood is linked to the biggest happiness dividends for women.”

Comparing different relational categories, the GSS finds “among married women with children between the ages of 18 and 55, 40% reported they are ‘very happy,’ compared to 25% of married childless women, and just 22% of unmarried childless women.”

Regarding men, the GSS found that “35% of married men ages 18-55 who have children report being ‘very happy,’ followed by 30% of married men who do not have children.”

IFS explains, “By contrast unmarried childless men, and especially unmarried fathers are the least happy — with less than 15% of these men saying they are ‘very happy.’” This means that married fathers are twice as likely to report being very happy compared to seemingly “carefree” unmarried, childless peers.

So, when you see negative news reports like the above from the Ohio State University Medical Center telling tales of woe for parents, remember we must not just listen to one study. We must examine the larger body of social research data because it often tells a very different and more positive story.

Additional Resources

Married Mothers and Fathers Are Happiest According to Gold-Standard General Social Survey

Marriage and Family Improves Happiness Far More Than a Pay Raise

Yes, Married Mothers Really Are Happier Than Unmarried and Childless Women

New Research: Marriage Still Provides Major Happiness Premium


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