Can having unhappy kids be a good thing?
Under some conditions, cheerfulness promotes health, but cheerfulness also has been associated with unfavorable health outcomes. This study follows up the inverse relation between childhood cheerfulness and longevity found among 1,215 men and women first assessed as children by Lewis Terman in 1922. Risky hobbies, smoking, drinking, and obesity, as well as cause of death, are examined, along with adulthood personality and adjustment. Several hypotheses about mediating variables can be eliminated by these analyses; these data do hint, however, that cheerful children grow up to be more careless about their health. Although correlational and survival analyses suggest that health behaviors play a role, they are unable to explain the observed cheerfulness-mortality link, thus supporting the idea that cheerfulness is multifaceted and should not be assumed to be related to health in a simple manner.
…individuals who were in the 75th percentile of cheerfulness when they were 10 or 11 years old were estimated to be 21% more likely to die at any given time than were those who were in the 25th percentile. Moreover, childhood cheerfulness in this sample was associated with more drinking, cigarette smoking, and risky hobbies and activities in adulthood…
To learn the science of raising kids (very much in line with what I do on this blog) check out NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.
Does having children make you more like your parents?
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