I can already hear (and see) you reacting quite strongly to that question. It’s a no brainer right? Any parent knows that while children are precious, there are just times when they will make one’s blood pressure shoot up like a rocket crazy to go to outer space. I know this, and you know this; so what’s up with question that I am posing?
Earlier, I stumbled upon a very interesting study about how people actually benefit from being parents – in terms of lower blood pressure. Just like you probably, the first thought that entered my mind was: that’s a load of crock. Then again, when I read more, it seemed to make some sense.
In a nutshell, the study’s results bank on the fact that having children give us a more meaningful life and a sense of purpose. Even if you take children out of the equation, it is easy to understand how the simple idea of having a bigger perspective, a sense of purpose, can be beneficial to an individual.
Think about it, when you face some really stressful situation at work, does coming home to your children help you de-stress? Even the mere thought of going home to your babies makes a difference, right? Or let’s say you don’t work – that doesn’t mean you’re immune to the stresses of life. Having a kid, according to the study, helps you deal better with these things.
Some details about the study:
The conclusion comes from a study of 198 adults who were fitted with portable blood pressure monitors for 24 hours as they went about their normal lives. Researchers took into account other factors that can influence blood pressure, such as health, age, weight, exercise, employment and drinking history. The effect was stronger among women. Mothers had a 12 and seven-point difference in blood pressure compared with childless women.
Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who led the study at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said: ‘While caring for children may include daily hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life’s stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes.’ Many parents, who cast an envious eye over the apparently carefree lives of childless couples, may disagree.
You think? I can rattle off a long list of parents who would probably disagree. I think, though, that it really depends on the situation and the point in time. So what do you think – does being a parent reduce or increase blood pressure?