Parenting is joyful, fun and hard work, too. Let's give lots of appreciation—and hugs—to our moms and dads in May and June.
I've always admired good fathers. I am blessed to have one who still sets the gold standard for my sisters and me. I’m married to one who makes me a better person and mother. And I can’t say enough positive things about father of fi ve Chris O’Donnell, whose love for his family plays a major role in our cover story.
Having strong personal relationships is a key ingredient to happiness, and for most of us, our first meaningful relationship was with our mom, dad or both. If we’re fortunate, they gave us love, support and guidance. If, as an adult, we choose to become a parent, we are grateful to provide the same gifts to a child trusted to our care. Having a good relationship with our parents makes it easier for us to have healthy relationships with our kids. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
It’s puzzling then, if strong personal relationships make us happier and if we’ve learned about personal relationships from our parents, that being a parent doesn’t necessarily make us happier. Some research shows that childless couples rank higher in happiness than those with children. Whether or not a parent agrees with these findings, I think they would say loving a child comes naturally, but supporting and guiding them is a mix of love and hard work.
Family is what I care most about, and my relationships with our two kids are a source of true and lasting joy. I invest energy, hope, collaboration and invention (read: work, worry, compromise and planning) in being a mom. While it’s not all fun and games, I wouldn’t trade this gig of a lifetime for anything. The researchers have the data right, but somehow they missed this nuance:
As a parent, I worry more, spend more and sleep less than others. But, I’m happy to do it. Just like my mom and dad, God bless them, were happy to do it for me. As we celebrate moms and dads everywhere in May and June, please take time to reflect on the gifts your parents gave you and, if you’re a parent, the gifts that come with the world’s most important job. Also, please thank parents’ helpers—aunts, uncles, baby sitters, teachers, neighbors and others. (They don’t pay the bills, but what they do for our kids is priceless.)
Take a cue from Chris and me. Give mom, dad and their helpers a big hug!