Their Kids Will Be Happy But Harried

In forecasting their kids’ lives as adults, few parents can bring themselves to feel pessimistic. After all, how could they survive parenthood if they thought their children would grow up to be miserable? But parents aren’t fools (evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), so they are selective in their optimism. The chart below, which draws on a new Yankelovich report about parents of kids age 17 and under, gives the pertinent data. As you can see, parents expect time to be scarcer than money for their kids as grown-ups. Just 9 percent think their kids will end up worse off financially, but 26 percent think their offspring will be more starved for time and 23 percent think they’ll be under more stress. If the number of parents who expect their children to be happier seems lackluster, keep in mind that most people regard themselves as quite happy. In any case, few of the poll’s respondents—2 percent of the mothers, 7 percent of the fathers—expect their offspring will grow up to be less happy than their parents are now. One gloomy footnote: Parents of older kids were consistently less upbeat in their forecasts than were parents of younger kids.