Are Grandchildren Better Than Kids?

A new study says they make you happier

By Gary Drevitch

We often write about the joys of grandparenthood here, how it's a reward, a blessing, or even a great do-over, for our childhoods, or for whatever mistakes we may have made when our own kids were young. Given how much we love being grandparents, it's fair to ask: Is having grandkids actually better than having kids?

A provocative new study attempted to answer that question, or at least to find out whether children or grandchildren made people happier. The research, by economists in Singapore, expanded on a surprising but growing series of studies which have shown that having children does not actually make parents any happier than people who don't have children. In fact, this research has shown, parents of young kids actually unconsciously fool themselves into believing that having children is more rewarding than it actually is.

[poll]And what of grandparenting? The new paper studied a British survey of more than 5,000 grandparents, and more than 6,000 non-grandparents over 40, which tried to determine how satisfied people were with their lives, and what made them happy. And the results were clear: Being a grandparent, whether to one or more children, corresponded to a greater satisfaction with life than having no grandchildren. But parents with no grandchildren were no happier than non-parents in the same age group.

In other words, when it comes to delivering happiness in our older years, our children's major contribution is giving us grandchildren. To look at it a different way, the best reason to have kids may be to eventually have grandkids. As the authors of the new study declare:

The research question of whether grandchildren contribute positively and significantly to the life satisfaction of grandparents is ... important in its own right. Evidence of a positive relationship between grandparenthood and life satisfaction will imply that there is indeed a long-run psychological payoff to the investment of children, one that skips a generation.

And that may be reason enough.

What do you think? Is grandparenthood better than parenthood? Share your thoughts in the Comments are below.


Find more thoughts on parenting and grandparenting, and the happiness our grandchildren bring us, from columnists:





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