Article by Justin Coulson. Help Justin with his research to receive a free e-book about parenting and you will be entered into a draw to win one of four $250 Westfield gift cards.
See his Happy families blog here or follow Justin’s twitter.
Today’s Illawarra Mercury has a front page article about parenting and happiness. Justin was interviewed talking about whether or not parents are happy being parents, and why researchers typically find that happiness declines for parents.
It would be a scene familiar to almost every parent.
One day, nine years ago, Justin Coulson got angry at his eldest daughter, aged two at the time.
He shouted at her, put her in her room and then went outside to cool down.
A street away, he heard a father screaming and yelling at another child.
“I heard how it reflected what I’d just done but was amplified,” Mr Coulson said.
“I had an epiphany. I realised then I didn’t want to turn into that man and had to learn how to be a better dad.”
Nine months later, the former radio announcer enrolled in an undergraduate psychology degree.
Eight years on, the Figtree resident is in the final stages of completing a three-year PhD study at the University of Wollongong into parenting and how it affects and reflects on levels of adult happiness.
Mr Coulson is calling on Illawarra parents to help him decipher the difficult family dynamics by participating in an online study.
“I’m looking for around 1000 parents, from all walks of life and each end of the parenting spectrum to complete a 30-minute survey about parenting and happiness.”
His research so far has highlighted that the majority of adults struggle with parenting, especially the social pressure to say they love the role.
“Parenting is really hard work and while it is punctuated with moments of delight, most mums and dads can’t wait until the kids are asleep at night so they can finally switch back out of parent mode and de-stress,” he said.
Mr Coulson said as children grow older, happiness among parents declines until the children move out of the family home.
But present and would-be parents shouldn’t despair quite yet – there is a flip side, Mr Coulson said.
“Children provide a deep sense of meaning for a parent,” he said.
“They make the highs higher. There are brief moments, such as watching your child in a dance competition, or seeing them achieve, that make being a parent – and all the difficulties with it – worthwhile.”
Mr Coulson stressed his research had found there was a spectrum with two distinct ends.
“But our research has found the majority of parents have diminished levels of happiness as their children grow up.”
He said his research was not meant to be judgemental on parents, but would hopefully lead to a better understanding of how families can become healthier.
Every parent who completes the survey receives a free e-book about parenting and will be entered into a draw to win one of four $250 Westfield gift cards.
To complete the survey, visit http://bit.ly/parentingsurvey.