A Framework for Understanding Parental Well-Being

Philosophia 43 (3):847-868 (2015)
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Is being a parent prudentially good for one – that is to say, does it enhance one’s well-being? The social-scientific literature is curiously divided when it comes to this question. While some studies suggest that being a parent decreases most people’s well-being, other studies suggest that being a parent increases most people’s well-being. In this paper I will present a framework for thinking about the prudential benefits and costs of parenthood. Four elements are central to this framework: affect, friendship , accomplishment, and perspective. In presenting this framework I have two main goals. One is to help us to gain some insight into why the social-scientific literature regarding parental well-being is divided in the way that it is, and the other is to provide those who are deciding whether to become parents with a helpful way of thinking through what is prudentially at stake.
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