One important reason that makes parenthood so difficult is that it puts an enormous strain on the central relationship in the family: the relationship of the parents.
Couples can often experience a drop in marital happiness that affects one’s overall well being.
After having a child, people often notice that they are not communicating as well with their partners as they did in their pre-child relationship; they may not handle conflicts as well, and may report an overall loss of confidence in the relationship.
In fact, negative changes can seem to outweigh the positive. Though people who don’t have kids also experience a decline in happiness throughout their marriage, it is gradual, without the sudden drop associated with having kids.
Other factors, like age and how settled you are in life may also influence how parenthood affects you. Older parents are generally less at risk for depression than younger ones.
Parents still in their early 20s appear to have the hardest time because they are struggling with their own move from adolescence to adulthood while at the same time learning to be parents.
This may be because younger first-time parents aren’t totally grown up themselves, and there is more risk for a “disordered transition from adolescence to adulthood.”
Other factors that can affect both your relationship with your significant other and your feelings about parenthood include whether the pregnancy was planned or not, one’s mood before the birth of a child, and the degree of sleep disruption you experience as a new parent.
Though not all of the variables that affect our relationship to parenthood are within our control (age, our partner’s behaviours, our children’s specific needs), there is a lot that is within our power.
Changing our attitudes toward parenthood can make a big difference in our perception of it.