Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Children vs The Lottery

Nattavudh Powdthavee, a lecturer in the Department of Economics and Related Studies at the University of York (the fightin' Peppermint Patties!) caused a minor revolt among parents upon penning an article that said the concept of children making us happy was a focusing illusion and that data suggested the opposite was true.

Grab your Starbucks and Baby Einstein CDs and take to the streets, people!

E.D. Kain has posted a thoughtful counterpoint to Powdthavee's thesis, opining thusly:

Having children is not like winning the lottery. The happiness we experience from our children is lasting, constant, omnipresent, and far deeper than any material gain. It is also hard, and frustrating, and the most tiring experience of my life, which makes it all that much more meaningful.

I've been parenting for 26 years, so my opinion doesn't come in the form of a double-blind study with control groups, although it does make use of the scientific method.
  • Define the question
  • Gather information and resources (observe)
  • Form hypothesis
  • Perform experiment and collect data
  • Analyze data
  • Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
  • Publish results
Q: Does having children make me happy?
  • Gather information - I've gathered three kids, two of whom are now adults. For my lab, I'm using the planet Earth. I hope no one else needs a bunsen burner right now.
  • Hypothesis - my kids make me happy
  • Perform experiment - I've gone to concerts, sporting events, dinners, dances, playgrounds, school events, vacations, graduations, funerals, and generally hung out with my kids, and I've gone weeks (sometimes a month or longer) without one or more of them around due to college, work, or personal reasons.
  • Analyze data - I have a feeling of peace, calm, love, and happiness when they are around, and there's a marked decrease in each of these emotions that's directly proportional to the amount of time since we've been together.
  • Interpret data and form conclusions - information analysis reveals that having children makes me happy, and their proximity directly correlates to the happiness scale originally posited by Ren & Stimpy in their published works, "Happy Happy Joy Joy."
  • I've pushed the button and this has now been published. QED.

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