Parents Misjudge Child Happiness
I can’t say I know what it’s like to be a parent.
Most of my experience comes from my friends that have children. At best, I’m only able to imagine what it’s like to have a kid.
The early years, there’s not a lot of sleep. Plenty of worry and stress. But I also imagine it can be pretty rewarding. Many parents I know want nothing more in the world than to see their kids grow up happy and healthy.
The funny things is, they may not be able to tell how happy their kids really are.
New research from the University of Plymouth has found that parent’s assessment of their child’s happiness can miss the mark.
357 Children children and their parents were questioned about their happiness. A range of self reporting methods and ratings were used to assess levels. Additionally, the parents were also quizzed on what they believed their child’s level of happiness was.
After analyzing the data, the researchers noticed an interesting discrepancy between parents and their children.
Parents who had children around the ages of 10 and 11 would consistently rate their happiness levels as higher than what they actually were. But the parents with 15 and 16-year-olds would consistently rate their child’s happiness levels as lower.
The scientists had to dig a little deeper to find out why this might be happening.
Both the children and adolescents seem to score their happiness levels pretty consistently across the board. There wasn’t huge difference between one child and the next. Nothing surprising jumped out.
However, scientists did notice a trend in the parents reporting. They saw a drop in the happiness levels among the parents. The parents with 10 and 11-year-olds were generally happier than the parents with 15 and 16-year-olds.
I guess raising kids during those teen years must be pretty difficult.
What scientists found were that parents were rating their children largely based on their own levels of well-being. It wasn’t that the children’s happiness was dropping between the ages of 10 to the ages of 15, it was that of the parents.
Researchers call this phenomenon “ego-centric” bias. The parents would rely too heavily on their own emotional feelings to determine how the rest of the family unit was doing. Which wasn’t actually in line with reality.
Dr. Perez – an author on the study – summed up the importance of the research:
“Being unable to read children’s happiness appropriately may increase misunderstanding between parents and children/adolescents, which has been shown to have negative consequences for parent-child relationships. Furthermore, parents might not be able to provide the appropriate emotional support or attend to their children’s needs accurately.”
No Need to Fret
Raising a kid, can’t be easy. If you don’t feel like you’re kid happy with their current lot in life, the reality might be far different than you believe. Your own feelings may be getting in the way of how things really are.
Things may not be all that bad, parents. A study published in 2013 found that parents that prioritize their child’s happiness over their own, are happier themselves. Not only that, but those parents also find more meaning in life from raising their children.
Even if things don’t feel like they’re at the level you want, have faith. Kids may actually be happier than you think, and raising those irksome adolescents may even help you find your own happiness.