Soon to be published research calls into question the significant happiness gap between parents and non-parents in the United States. With data representing 22 different countries, results point to the US families enduring the largest happiness gap of all. So are parents regretting the decision to grow their families? Not at all. In fact, researchers attributed this gap to several factors, the most influential being summed up as "the tools to combine work and family." Specifically, that the relative wages earned compared to the cost of childcare for a 2-year old and the amount of paid leave, doing the most damage to American parents.
What's even more surprising? Some countries, Norway and Sweden, to name a few, were found to have no gap at all and even an inverse outcome of parents reporting more happiness than non-parents.
Cultural factors were also found to play a role, when considering the almost limitless options of parenting styles available in our country coupled with the societal need to "compete" for the best childcare and educational options. What does it all boil down to? The stress of too many parenting options, not enough support, and the constant struggle of families wading through the inequality of resources as they try to do what's best for their children.
So how do we bridge the happiness gap? Dr. Coontz of the Council on Contemporary Families suggests more holistic and family friendly policies and legislation that support people's efforts to balance work and family.
How do YOU think we can bridge the gap?