Sure, your little ones can drive you crazy from time to time, but they also may be the reason why you'll live longer down the road.
A new study released by Swedish researchers explains why having kids may help parents add years to their life. Though those without children were found to live shorter, the difference is not significant.
According to the study, fathers were expected to live two years longer than non-fathers at 60-years-old. Mothers were only expected to live one and a half years longer than non-mothers. The difference decreased as age increased, meaning that by 80-years-old, dads were only expected to live about 8 months longer and moms about seven months longer than non-parents.
Lead author Karin Modig and her team used data to track all men and women born between 1911 and 1925 in Sweden, which wound up being 705,000 men and more than 725,000 women. “The absolute difference in death risk between parents and non-parents increases with age between age 60 and 100,” Modig said. “These differences persist into, and even grow larger, in old age.”
So, what is it about having kids that gives parents more time on earth? According to Modig, it could be "more healthy behaviors," but it's more likely that parents live longer due to the fact that they have their children around to care for them when they're older. “Aging individuals without children or other close kin maybe need to get extra support elsewhere," Modig added.
Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein also spoke on the study, explaining that it's the "social involvement" aspect that's most important. “We humans are social animals, for better or worse. We benefit and thrive from each other’s company,” she said. “My hunch is it does not matter what you do with the kids. If you are exposed to a family, that will maintain you emotionally or physically.”
She explained, however, that all hope is not lost for those without children. "If you're childless, that doesn't mean you can't link yourself to a group," Wolf-Klein said.