Are there health benefits to having them?
For many people the ability to have children comes easily. Unfortunately, for some it is can be a struggle. Yet, others consciously choose not have them. There are many factors that should be considered when thinking about having a child. One important, less thought of, point is how having children affects the health of their parents. Does having a child provide health benefits to the parents? Are there health benefits to not having children?
While having children comes with great responsibility, it also comes with great reward. There are times when taking care of children can be incredibly stressful, frustrating and you wonder why you ever decided to have them. However, most parents state they are happier and have less overall stress in their lives when compared to people of the same age who don’t have children. While there are several reasons for this, the main one is that having children can improve the quality of your life thanks to the numerous benefits they provide.
One of the greatest benefits of having children is the improvement to your mental health. Taking care of children is a twenty-four-hour job that requires to put your child’s needs before your own. This helps parents to become less selfish with more empathy and understanding for others. This increases your patience and helps you to discover what is truly important to you. Certain things that may have bothered you before, such as not having laundry done or having dishes in the sink, no longer seem as big of a deal. At the same time, you are less likely to put with childish behavior from other adults and might choose not to hang out with friends that you once did because you don’t feel like participating in activities that they are doing. In addition, having children increases your self-esteem because when you spend time with them, you can see the positive impact you’re having on them and this affects how you feel about yourself. Also, when you have children, you are constantly learning something new. Children are very curious, constantly asking questions and in awe of things that we, as adults, often take for granted. By taking the time to learn about and explain to them the things they are interested in, you get to learn something new and experience that sense of wonder that they have about the world. Another thing that children are great at doing is being funny. As a parent, you get to enjoy all of these humorous moments. Genuine laughter is a great stress buster. All of these helps to decrease your overall stress making you happier and improving your mental health in the long term.
Besides the mental health benefits, you gain physical benefits as well. When your overall stress level is lower, your blood pressure is usually lower. Several studies have found that people with children have lower blood pressures than people the same age who don’t have children. Also, people with children tend to take better care of themselves from a health stand point because they realize that they have the responsibility for caring for another individual and the best way to do this is to be in good health yourself. The other reason that people tend to become more health conscious after having children is that they want to have a long enough life to see their children grow and become adults. So, this means that parents are less likely to take on unnecessary risks and engage in more safe behaviors than non-parents. Women benefit even further from becoming a mother due to the changes pregnancy can have on her body. When a woman becomes pregnant, her hormones change and this alters how her body responds to different situations for the rest of her life. It is well known that having a baby is linked to a decrease in the risk for several different types of cancer. This is especially true for breast cancer when a woman’s first pregnancy occurs between the ages of 18 – 25. The benefit decreases after that period slightly from the ages of 25 – 30 and is gone after the age of 30. Also, pregnancy helps to change how a woman’s body reacts to certain conditions, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and polycystic ovaries. It is sort of like pushing a reset button when it comes to these diseases. There have been some findings that pregnancies that occur after the age of 35 protect against cognitive decline as a woman ages. Recently, there has been some correlation of using hormonal contraceptives for over 10 years or beginning menstruation before the age of 13 as contributory factors in improved brain function and decrease in memory loss because of the hormones have the ability to impact the body over longer periods of time. It has recently been found that women who have children later live longer than women who have them earlier. This is good news for women who are delaying have children because they are focusing on getting an education and establishing themselves in jobs and careers beforehand. Thanks to advances in fertility technology, it is making this decision to wait to have children much more achievable.
Obviously, having children comes with plenty of health benefits, but what about people who choose not to have children? In a recent study, it was found that women who had children ranked their level of contentment pretty high. The next closest group was women who were childless by choice. The reason behind this choice can be a variety of factors, like concerns about the environment and the health hazards this would pose on children or financial concerns of not being able to afford to support a child. Currently, the cost to raise a child from infant to the age of 18 is over $200,000. This is per child and doesn’t include any financial support from parents for the child to go to college. A benefit of not having children include having the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want. This can give you a sense of having more control over your life because you aren’t concerned with the wellbeing of someone else. You can focus on the relationship you have with your significant other, which can often suffer when you have children because you become more focused on them and less so on each other. Financially, you’ll be more stable because you don’t have the cost of raising children.
Since there are benefits to having or not having children, this makes it challenging to decide what to do. It is important to note that people who want to have children and are unable to and people who have children and wish they never did are usually more unsatisfied with their lives when compared to people with children and people who are childless by choice. This dissatisfaction is more likely to lead to these individuals to be unhealthy. So, from a health perspective, it doesn’t really matter which you choose, but how comfortable you are with your choice.