Will my baby make me happy?

By Dr Pierre van der Spuy – MD, MBA. Author of “A happy human brain” – Metz Press

“Why did no-one warn me that having a child will make me so unhappy?” a mother recently confided. Her dream of finding happiness by becoming a mother was shattered. She is not alone. 28 different studies have shown that 85% of couples will experience a drop in their happiness that will only recover when the last child leaves home, if at all. For some, it is much more than a drop. In some cultures, 30% of mothers experience postnatal depression. The dilemma gets even worse. Research shows that happy parents nurture happy children, and vice versa. And we know that parents are as happy as their unhappiest child.

 Suggestions

  • Embrace the following: You will not find love and happiness by having a child; you must have love and happiness to give to your child.
  • Your child’s happiness therefore starts even before she is conceived. It starts with both mother and father being happy and loving individuals in a relationship of respect, intimacy and support. (This is the reason why 15% of couples maintained their happiness after they had children.) So spend more time fixing your relationship, than fixing the baby-room. Go into marriage counselling if needed. Your children will thank you for it.
  • During pregnancy, work towards maintaining a sense of psychological and physical well-being. Do hobbies and activities for no-one else’s sake, but your own happiness. As far as possible, avoid full-time stressful jobs or find professional help to alleviate the stress.
  • If you struggle with chronic physical problems associated with pregnancy, seek both medical and psychological help.
  • Spend positive quality time with your unborn child. Logic dictates that the beginnings of the emotional bond between mother and child are formed in the womb. This bond is a vital prerequisite for a happy human brain.
  • Prepare yourself for the joys and struggles of having a child. Ask other mothers and fathers what their positive and negative experiences were and how they coped. We need to shatter our fantasies that children will make us happy, for a baby needs positive caring realistic parents from day one.
  • Study books that explain what care, especially in the first three years of life, is crucial for the development of a happy human brain.
  • Accept that having a happy child is not a right or a given, but the fruits of hard work and positive mature parenting by both spouses.
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