Last fall I wrote a post called The Parenting/Relationship/Happiness Correlation, mostly discussing.. well.. the correlation between parenting, relational health, and personal happiness. I took some really interesting (and outrageous) quotes and stats about how parents feel. Some of you were shocked, some of you totally understood, and many of you wanted to keep the conversation going. So I took a very personal survey where people could answer anonymously.
You’ve been waiting for the results. I had no idea how extensive this project would become, but we’ve pressed on, and here we are. If you’ve not read the post, I suggest you go back here and do so, and if you’d like to see the survey questions, click here.
A couple of mishaps/notes:
1) I asked readers to take the survey if they are married or in a long-term committed relationship. I should have been more specific, because I did have some teenagers respond (my boyfriend lives four states away), so that skewed my results. I ended up filtering the results down to parents only to minimized that complication.
2) Several stated that they are currently trying to conceive, so their frequency of intercourse likely skewed the results as well.
3) A couple of the parents who responded that they are having sex daily are newlyweds with older children/stepchildren.
So, keeping all of that in mind, I’d like to let you know that I got a B in Statistics and this is so very not scientific.
Here are the results (make sure to read Dr. Kari’s notes after).
I sent the survey results to Dr. Kari. Some notes from her:
In general, as the frequency with which couples go out together increases, the amount of bedroom activity also increases. The amount of sleep couples get also goes up as both the rate of going out AND bedroom activity increases. It appears that this extra activity is not coming at the cost of a good night’s rest! The extent to which couples go out, engage in bedroom activity, sleep, and exercise are all positively correlated with their ratings of relationship health and their own personal wellbeing.
There is a negative correlation between the number of kids a couple has and how often they go out. More kids is associated with less going out (shocking, right?). Increasing number of kids is also associated with decreasing sleep and a decreasing sense of personal well-being (this last finding is actually really consistent with other research in this area).
512 readers have at least one child under the age of 2, 12 have two kids under the age of 2. On the other end of the spectrum, 84 readers have a teenager and 14 have two teenagers! Readers with at least one child under the age of two report lower personal wellbeing and less sleep than those with older children and, on average, they go out less. A higher proportion of readers with kids under the age of 2 hire some sort of outside help compared to those with older kids. However, hiring outside help does not appear to help make these differences in wellbeing and sleep go away. (Note from Roo: I didn’t include the working status of people surveyed because the combinations were just so extensive. One works FT from home, the other FT out of the home, or PT from home, or stay-at-home mom, etc.)
Readers with teenagers ALSO report lower wellbeing and tend to go out less than other readers with younger children (so apparently the sweet spot is older than 2 and less than 13!). They are also way less likely to higher outside services than people with somewhat younger kids.
Readers whose primary role is a stay-at-home parent/caregiver report higher rates of relationship health and more bedroom activity than those who work full time outside of the home, however they tend to go out less. There are no differences in any of these variables as a function of the spouse’s occupation.
And there you have it. The results were really interesting, and I think the general statement that parents who have very young children are sleep-deprived, have less sex, and are generally a little less happy with life and their marital relationships is probably not untrue. On the bright side, it also (I realize some of the graphs are tough to read) seemed to change as kids got older.
I am done looking at numbers and graphs for the next four years, but thank you so much to everyone who weighed in (and thank you for being patient). I’m really interested to know your thoughts. :)