Dear Grandparenting: My daughter Marla is 26 and having way too much fun to even think about producing a grandchild. Why? Because she says it will ruin her marriage!
Sounds crazy to me but Marla isn’t kidding for now. Close friends went through the ringer after having children and drifted apart from their husbands. She says she’s heard too many horror stories about what happens after children, like that’s a primary deal breaker.
Is it not true that children bring a marriage together and make it stronger? I can’t wait forever for a grandchild. Nan Malone, Boston, MA
Dear Nan: Having children certainly can improve parental quality of life, but the arrival of the first little one makes their lives more difficult, at least according to decades of research. Two is harder still.
One eight-year study funded by the National Institute of Health found that 90% of couples reported a decrease in marital satisfaction after their firstborn, even the blissfully happy. For couples on shakier ground, it can prove the beginning of the end.
Couples change how they interact after the birth of a child, typically for the worse struggling to cope with the stress and challenges of accommodating demanding firstborns. Throw in skyrocketing childcare costs for working parents, and a new need to bank money for future expenses. According to the latest U.S. government estimate, it will take $234,000 to raise a child born in 2015 to the age of 17.
The good news is that children make divorce less likely once over the hump. People experience different types of happiness at different times during their life’s trajectory. As we age, romantic happiness often yields center stage to family happiness as couples build their brood and grandparents look on.
For grandparents-in-waiting like you, it can seem an eternity. But at 26, your daughter’s life stretches out before her. It’s still early, way too soon for never to set in.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Billy Lewis from Waynesboro, PA reports that grandson Morgan has arrived.
“Glad to have finally joined the club. Morgan weighs a hefty eight pounds and change. I heard the lucky parents get promoted to grandparents.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.