Scientists have found that parents who constantly yap about how much they love having children may be exaggerating to reassure themselves that Junior isn't just a human money pit who'll give them the Grandpa Simpson treatment as soon as they get old.

In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, University of Waterloo researchers write,

"Many people believe that to be truly fulfilled in life, it is necessary to experience the joys of parenthood. Children are considered an essential source of happiness, satisfaction, and pride. However, the idea that parenthood involves substantial emotional rewards appears to be something of a myth."

According to LiveScience, the scientists asked 80 parents to read through information about how raising a child from birth to age 18 can cost $190,000 (that doesn't even take into account the four years spent studying the rules of beer pong and why mom and dad don't know anything). Another control group read the same material, along with other information about how grown children support their parents.

The parents who only read about the high cost of spawning were more likely to talk about the emotional satisfaction they receive from parenting. The authors write, "The costs of raising children motivate parents to idealize parenthood... The perceived joys of parenthood may thus be a rationalization of the high costs of having children."

The theory is that when parents stopped looking as their children as fellow workers with tiny hands well-suited for picking carrots, they started playing up the emotional satisfaction of parenting rather than admitting they'd made a huge mistake. Okay, perhaps that's overstating the facts. Obviously, there are emotional benefits to reproducing, but it may not be the 24/7 portrait of parental bliss that people say it is, particularly when disparaging friends who choose not to have children.

Joy Of Parenting? Moms, Dads May Be Kidding Themselves [LiveScience]

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