Children grow up happier when their mother is happy in her relationship.
Fully 73% of people whose mothers were ‘perfectly happy’ in their relationship say they are ‘completely happy’ with their family situation.
This is just one of the factors in a family that predicts which children grow up to be happier.
The others are: avoiding regular arguments and eating at least three evening meals together a week.
Arguing more than once a week with parents was linked to much lower levels of happiness among children.
The researchers also found that having no younger siblings was also beneficial for later happiness.
Older siblings, though, had no effect on happiness.
Dr Maria Iacovou, a study author, said:
“At a time when there is widespread political concern about ‘Broken Britain’, these findings show that family relationships and the happiness of parents are key to the happiness of young people.
Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing videogames or watching TV we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings.”
The conclusions come from a long-running UK study called ‘Understanding Society’.
It is the largest household panel survey in the world, which will follow over 40,000 households over a number of years.
These findings are based on a sample of over 10,000 men, women and children.
Dr Iacovou said:
“Together these findings reveal the complex influences of different family relationships on a child’s happiness.
Over the years, as Understanding Society follows the lives of families in the UK, we’ll build up an even better picture of how children’s lives are affected by all kinds of factors.
Understanding Society is really set to become a fantastic resource for anyone interested in the well-being of children.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) (Ermisch et al., 2011).