Is Being a Parent Making You Unhappy?

Author and mom Jennifer Senior's new book, "All Joy and No Fun," exposes the truth about parenting.
3:00 | 03/20/14

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Transcript for Is Being a Parent Making You Unhappy?
We'll turn to a new book stirring up a lot of buzz about what it means to be a parent. It's called "All joy and no fun, the paradox of modern parenthood" and raising children may involve a lot more agony and not as much ecstasy as we think and ABC's juju Chang takes a look. Are you done? Reporter: The dirty little secret of moderning parenting, the day-to-day grind can turn happy people into less happy people. For me it's feeling sad when my kids feel sad. Reporter: Jesse, a professional photographer and mother of three confesses though she loves her kids and loves being a mom she didn't anticipate the less joyful moments and guilt that comes with the territory. We are so self-examining, but I think it creates a lot of guilt. Reporter: Author and mom Jennifer is exposing the unanticipated underbelly of parenting in her new book "All joy and no fun." Research shows parents are no happier than nonparents. Kids, it turns out, don't necessarily make life all that fun. So the no fun part, people are more reluctant to speak about it. We know there's some drudgery associated with parenthood. I don't know if we're fully prepared to talk about how much anxiety we experience as parents. Reporter: The hardest stages are the early years and the teenage years where a child is fighting for their Independence and parents have a hard time letting go. She also believes parenting in the digital age of Pinterest, Facebook and instagram adds to mother's guilt and feelings of inadequacy but rather than forgo parenting, her view is parents need to be realistic. Beware of someone who speaks with great certainty about what they're doing. None of us know. It's okay to be uncertain. Reporter: What she says, though, scientific studies cannot measure is the long-term joy that comes with raising kids. Talking about fun is a very thin form of happiness. Joy is something totally different. It's about a deep abiding connection with someone. To be a parent, you report more highs. They report more moments of meaning. They report more perfect -- Reporter: For Jesse a tough day can be erased with a simple hug. For "Good morning America," juju Chang, ABC news, New York. Joining us is Ericka souter. I got to say I am surrounded by great parents, all three of you. Thank you. You talk glowingly about your kids all the time. Yet they are there are also some times when it's challenging. That's the real world, isn't it? That is. A lot of us are disillusioned that it be like that. I was overwhelmed and frightened when I brought my son home. There are types that made the experience a little bit awful but I was afraid to admit that because no one was talking about that. You were just supposed to glow and say, oh this, is the best. The book singles out the toddler and teen years as the especially tough ones but one of the ink sights is the teen problem may be as much to do with the parents as the kids. There is always this heartbreaking moment when you realize your kid doesn't need you anymore or doesn't want you around all the time but what I found a lot of moms also look forward to that day. It's a little bittersweet because they can reclaim their Independence in their lives again. And, look, being a parent is the absolute joy of my life and there are tough days, but it's the absolute joy of my life and I guess, you know, I don't know that parenting has changed, maybe it's these things that have changed. They're changing us, but -- Just as the book came out I asked an older mom and they said parents have all these bes and whistles and great things to keep their kids occupied. The big difference though I think are moms today. Like we want it all. Still want to be titans of industry and still want to be great parents and we're always there and it's really hard to do that. Is there a difference for moms and dads for happiness? It is different. I think dads feel less pressure. They're more involved than ever. Got to give them a pat on the back. More involved than ever but the moms bear the lion's share of parenting. Uh-huh. Thanks, Ericka. "Deals & steals."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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