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The Myth of Joyful Parenthood

15 Aug

Sure, the soccer uniforms, piano lessons and college tuition add up--but there is nothing like being a parent. Or so we tell ourselves, according to a study in the February issue of Psychological Science . When parents are faced with the financial costs of a child, they justify their investment by playing up parenthood’s emotional payoffs.

Psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario gave parents in the study a government report estimating that bringing up a child to age 18 costs more than $190,000. Then half the parents read an additional report about the financial help grown children pro­-vide their parents. Those who read only about the high price tag were more likely to agree with statements idealizing the emotional benefits of parenthood, such as “There is nothing more rewarding in this life than raising a child.”