Dads Are Happier Than Moms, Study Says – But It's Not That Simple

Do dads have more fun?

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: Westend61


The roles of parenting are definitely changing, and this is a good thing for everyone in the family. While dads are more hands-on with their kids and taking on more of the housework, the weight of parenting still heavily falls on mom. So, when a recent study was released that said dads are happier than moms, it has a lot of moms thinking “O.K., so what am I doing wrong?” However, the reason why dads say they feel happier than moms is not so simple.

According to findings published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers analyzed three different studies that looked at the emotional health of 18,000 participants. They compared traits like well-being, happiness, episodes of depression and stress. What they found was that of all the groups examined, fathers are among the happiest.

Compared to moms and their child-free peers, fathers reported fewer daily hassles than mothers and less depressive symptoms than men without children. So why all the joy for dear old dad?

Well, it may have to do with dads saying they have more time to play with their kids. Moms, if you are reading this and your head exploded just a bit, let’s walk through this together because same, girl, same.

"Fathers may fare better than mothers in part due to how they spend their time with their children," says study author Katherine Nelson-Coffey.

So, while dads are headed to the playground, building forts and playing endless rounds of card games, moms are still taking on the day-to-day tasks of parenting, including: feeding, dressing, bathing, managing emotions and running kids to and from.

Here’s the thing. Work and play are both an important part of parenting; however, if more of the work falls on mom and more of the play falls on dad, of course he is going to feel more joy.

So, what can we do with this information? Divide and conquer.

Make sure moms and dads are getting in plenty of playtime and equally dividing the work of parenting. It’s not always easy but reminding yourself to find a little extra joy by playing dress-up while Dad packs lunch will make everyone in the house a little happier. Most days, parenting won’t be 50/50, but everyone deserves happiness in their day.