New Poll Shows Parents Are Really Stressed… and Really Happy

Compared to adults without children, parents experience more smiles and laughter on a daily basis.

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Photo by Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

As stressful as it is to organize carpool, plan family meals, and referee bickering siblings, a new poll shows that adults with children also experience more joy and laughter than adults without children.

Gallup partnered with Healthways, a health and well-being improvement company, to track Americans’ well-being, and these findings are from the most recent set of telephone interviews. Researchers polled about 132,000 adult men and women on whether or not they experienced stress “a lot” during the previous day, as well as laughter. Parents experienced more daily stress—45 percent of respondents compared to 37 percent of childless respondents. However, 84 percent of adults with children also said they’d smiled or laughed the day before, compared to about 80 percent of those without. While the numbers aren’t incredibly different, it’s good to know that parents are compensated for that extra stress with some extra smiles.

Gallup further broke down the data by gender, and found that mothers were a bit more stressed than fathers, but both seemed to experience the same amount of joy from their kids. Even in terms of stress, mothers and fathers were within five points of each other.

From Gallup: “That these elevated emotions are common to women as well as men underscores the shared parenting that occurs in many families, and can play a part in helping spouses recognize a shared set of experiences in this role.”