As much as it might feel like it sometimes, your kids actually aren't taking years off your life. In fact, it might be quite the opposite: According to new research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, having kids is linked to living longer.
In the March 2017 study, Swedish researchers analyzed national registry data on more than 704,000 men and 725,000 women ages 60 and older. Taking into account other factors such as education level, the study authors calculated each person's risk of death every year, comparing it with data on their marital statuses and whether they had any children.
As you would expect, the participants' risks of death rose overall as they aged. But interestingly enough, the researchers found that men and women with children had lower risks of earlier death than their childless counterparts: By age 60, moms were expected to live 1.5 years longer than women who didn't have children, while dads were expected to live 2 years longer than the other men.
Why is this the case? The researchers believe it might have something to do with children helping and providing care for their parents as they age: "Our finding that the association grew stronger when parents became older is further in agreement with research suggesting that childless people face support deficits only towards the end of life," the researchers wrote.
This study does have its limitations, of course: The research was purely observational, so the study authors can't prove anything more than a link between having children and living longer. But the study authors note their findings do support earlier studies that have found children might help lower their moms' and dads' mortality risk—and challenge previous research that suggests daughters might be more likely to lengthen their parents' lives than sons.
And those are some welcome words for moms and dads everywhere.