The article “The Joys of Parenthood, Reconsidered” by Robin W. Simon from the Spring 2008 issue of Contexts would work great in a Sociology of Families or Introduction to Sociology course. In this article, Simon presents research that show parents in the United States experience depression and emotional distress more often than people who do not have children. Use the questions below to start a discussion on this article in class or as a guide for the reading:
1) Do you agree with the author that our society values having children so much that childless adults are either pitied or considered selfish? If so, why do you think this cultural belief is so strong? If not, why not?
2) Do you think having children will make/makes your life complete? How have the cultural beliefs about parenthood described in this article affected your personal desire (or lack thereof) for children?
3) Brainstorm about why these ideas about parenthood persist even if they are not statistically “true”? Who might have a vested interest in maintaining these beliefs?