In a new study that absolutely no mother would ever disagree with, it was found that dads tend to be happier than moms. Shocking, right? No. No, it isn't. The study conducted by researchers at the University of California Riverside looked at 18,000 people before coming to the unsurprising conclusion. Researchers looked at three different studies to determine the level of happiness both men and women felt about their roles as parents.
The first two studies looked at men and women who were parents compared to those who didn't have children, but it should be noted that men in all three studies were found to be happier than their female counterparts. Men who were fathers were also found to be happier than those who hadn't experienced fatherhood. "Fathers reported greater happiness, subjective well-being, psychological need satisfaction, and daily uplifts than did men without children," the study states before noting that "across all three studies and more than 18,000 participants, parenthood was associated with more positive well-being outcomes for fathers than for mothers."
We know that mothers still tend to do more work around the house and carry more of the mental load of parenting than their male counterparts. Studies have shown that the average stay at home mother should be paid $160,000 a year for all the different jobs they do and hats they wear and that the average working mother clocks 98 hours of work a week, so it's not surprising fathers are happier in general. The study posited that even though men are doing more now than ever before when it comes to sharing the load at home, it's the fathers who seem to be able to enjoy more play time with their kids, which could be contributing to their increased happiness. Women meanwhile are still more responsible for traditional roles in the home.
"One explanation for the findings in the current studies may be that mothers, but not fathers, perceive the uneven divisions of labor in their homes as unfair, which in turn results in reduced well-being," the study states. “Fathers reported greater happiness during child care than for anything else they did that day, whereas mothers reported lower happiness during child care than for other activities during the day,” Katherine Nelson-Coffey, the lead author on the study told The Washington Post.
Nelson-Coffey agreed that the invisible imbalance of labor in the home could be a contributing factor in why fathers seem happier than mothers. She said the study findings "tend to find that mothers are more responsible for childcare in general, and they also have more emotional and invisible labor such as keeping the household running, managing schedules, worrying about their children’s emotions. All of these things are possibilities that could explain why mothers are less happy.”
Since fathers tend to play more with their kids, the study suggests that mothers should also try to find more time to spend with their kids simply playing than worrying about the mountain of other responsibilities that await them. “I don’t think it hurts for parents to try to incorporate play into mundane tasks. So instead of just focusing on changing my child’s diaper, I might try to bring some play into that moment to make it a little bit more joyful for everyone involved,” Nelson-Coffey said. “We can’t stop taking care of our children. We have to do those things,” she added, “but if we can introduce play into those moments, hopefully, it will make those moments feel a little bit better.”