Micael Widell

Upbringing and later life happiness

/ happiness

I keep returning to the Harvard Study of Adult Development and the book about it called Triumphs of Experience. There are so many interesting findings in that study, that I decided to break it up into a few blog posts. Go here for an overview about the study if you are unfamiliar with it.

Today I wanted to bring up a very interesting topic, which I haven't previously seen much research in: what effects does certain upbringing practices have on children? If I use certain practices while raising my children, will their lives be affected by it? Does it matter?

The study did some research on this, and they checked to see if any of the following areas affected happiness later in life:

  • Toilet training (when if at all)
  • Breastfeeding (how long if at all)
  • Age of stopping to use diapers
  • Inhibited thumb-sucking or not

All these things had zero effect on long term happiness. It would be interesting to see more research on upbringing practices, but what practices you use when your child is very young doesn't seem to make a difference.

The researchers also looked at birth order, to see if it affects your happiness level in life if you are the eldest or the youngest among your siblings. They found no correlation whatsoever between birth order and happiness. What they did find though, is that the eldest child had more occupational success on average.

Another thing the researchers looked at was if physical health during childhood affected happiness later in life. Also here they found no connection at all between physical health in childhood and happiness levels later in life.

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