Are adults happier than kids?

All things considered, peeps, were you happier as a child or are you happier now?

Long school holidays bring out the grumbles in frazzled parents, and I’ve been hearing lots of ‘Kids don’t know how lucky they are’, ‘Wish I was a kid again, I’d also like five weeks holiday’ etc

I don’t know about that. I’m a much happier person now than I was as a child and teen. Though I had a happy childhood, lovely family and no major traumas, I would pay wads of cash to avoid doing it all again. I was a serious child, a heavy thinker on the outskirts most of the time, wondering when it would get better.

Parents tend to laugh it off when their children talk about their lives being hard, but I get it. Children do worry. They pick up stompies of conversations about their parent’s finances and relationships and worry about what they might mean. They fight with their friends and struggle with schoolwork. They fall in love and have their hearts broken. They worry about their future and their place in the world. The smallest injustice feels like the end of the world and they don’t believe that time heals all.

I was taken aback when my then 7-year-old daughter burst into tears suddenly when I was trying to give her some arb instruction. ‘You don’t know how hard it is to be 7!’ she yelled. ‘People say stuff to me and I don’t always understand what you mean! And I can’t reach my top shelves either!’

I didn’t giggle. That would have been wrong.

And then I remembered. At 7, everything is so much MORE. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. They still have all the shiny edges which make Christmas morning so exciting and goldfish deaths so devastating. Our shiny edges are worn down by time.

Why adults are lucky

As an adult I have more responsibilities and worries. I don’t get 5-week holidays and I have to fund my own cellphone bill. But I have two things now which the angsty, fretful 12-year old me hadn’t yet earned.

One is perspective – so important to distinguish between the apocalypse and leaving your pencil case at home. Lack of perspective can be irritating to parents sometimes, because we’ve forgotten what it felt like. We’re impatient and try to shush their tears because we know it’ll be fine. But they don’t know it, not yet.

The other thing I have now is power – the ability to change what makes me unhappy. If I don’t like my job for example, I’m required to take charge and change my situation. I’m encouraged to be myself. My happiness depends on me, alone. I’m in charge.

Children don’t have that choice. They have to play the hand they’re dealt and are usually expected to play it quietly.

Yes, I know that most of us survive just fine. It’s called growing up, and we all had to do it. But it ain’t no bowl of cherries and I’m bloody glad I don’t have to do it again.

Are children more likely to be happier than adults?

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