How parenthood makes life meaningful and how marriage makes parenthood bearable

When Baby Makes Three, the 2011 State of Our Unions report from the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, relies on nationally representative data to answer four important questions about contemporary family life:

  1.  Is it emotionally easier to parent alone in a world in which a good marriage seems increasingly out of reach?
  2. Do married parents report more meaningful lives than their childless peers?
  3. Is parenthood itself an obstacle to a good marriage?
  4. What are the social, cultural, and relational sources of marital success among today’s parents?

The report finds

  • That married parents have higher levels of emotional well-being, compared to unmarried parents,
  • that parenthood is associated with higher reports of meaning in life, and
  • that there are about ten social and cultural factors—from marital generosity to shared religious faith to commitment—that are associated with high-quality marriages among today’s parents (age 18-46).

The report has generated a substantial measure of media attention in outlets ranging from The New York Times to ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.