Well, isn’t this something? Check out this article in the Pacific Standard: “Do Children Make Us Happy?“
They do, especially when parenting in a “child-centric” manner:
Child-centric parents prioritize their children’s needs and wants over their own. The hallmark of a child-centric parent is self-sacrifice. The researchers define the child-centric mindset as one in which “parents are motivated to maximize their child’s well-being even at a cost to their own and are willing to prioritize the allocation of their emotional, temporal, financial, and attentional resources to their children rather than themselves.”
In this study, the researchers again found that… child-centric parents… experienced more positive emotions when they were taking care of their children than when they were doing other things. These parents also experienced less negative emotions when they were taking care of their kids. Child-centric parents also derived more meaning out of their interactions with their kids. When they were not with their kids, these parents experienced less meaning and positive emotions.
I’ll just make the leap: according to these findings, being an at-home parent should yield tremendous happiness.
And if a new purpose in life–a new reason to sacrifice, or give, and transcend what you want for yourself–does not manifest by the time one’s children are grown, one would seem to be set up for unhappiness.