Are bigger families happier families? 42



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If you’ve got children and grandchildren you will know that they bring a great deal of joy mixed with a lot of worry and some heartache. When the grandchildren are running round the house and garden it can feel really lively, busy and happy.

But how many kids bring the optimum level of happiness? Well, a five-year study by Perth’s Edith Cowan University has come up with the answer.

They discovered families with four or more children are the happiest and feel the most satisfied.

Bronwyn Harman, a lecturer in the School of Psychology and Social Science, asked parents from different family types about resilience, social support and self-esteem.

The parents who rated the highest satisfaction in all the categories were those with a family of four kids or more.

The great thing about a big family is you have a lot of back up emotionally and there’s a great deal of support available. Couple that with the fact that the kids are never bored because there’s always someone to play with and you can see how the equation works.

Researchers discovered that there are plenty of questions for parents of large families. They described being asked if they were Catholic; had a television; and if the children all shared the same father?

Of course there are draw backs. More kids equals bigger bills, less time and more pressure. There are the practicalities to deal with too. If you have a big family you need a bigger house and a larger car.  All of this could be outweighed by the joy, fun and love that children can’t help but bring with them. Plus there’s a never ending supply of hand-me-downs and you don’t need to invite anyone over to have a party!

In recent decades, many parents have opted for smaller families, does this research suggest they’re missing out on something?

How many kids were in your family when you were growing up, is four the perfect number? Were you an only child, would you have loved brothers and sisters to play with ? Share your story with us.


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I’m one of 9 children, well, I used to be. Life would have been much better without a few of them. Major lesson learned , some people will always think they are more important and more entitled then the next. Thats Life Aye ?

  2. I am the eldest of 8, and still are it was a fantastic time, we did have fights with each other who. doesn’t, and now I have lots of good memories to look back on
    We didn’t have a lot of money so toys were out of the question, we made our own fun

  3. Any families’ happiness has to depend on the parents’ love and attention, and how their own relationship is. I have friends with nine children – all grown now – but the dynamics of caring and helping in their home when they were younger was the perfect example of a happy family. They all worked together on whatever their current task was and then enjoyed each other’s company when the chores were done.
    I used to ‘babysit’ them when their parents were at conferences for a weekend and I’ve never seen a happier or more caring family ever. The six year old boy is the one who got dinner ready the first night and it was delicious – admittedly, a meal already prepared which he had to put together and heat up, but there were no complaints – he just knew it was his job that night, while another set the table, two others cleared it all up afterwards, one swept the floor while three others did the dishes and another put the plates away. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the task of looking after all these kids, it was more like a three day holiday for me! Most of the children were home schooled and one is now a very successful barrister here in Brisbane, another an accountant in London, others are beautiful caring mums and one has a successful home business while caring for three littlies, while the others are doing very well in their chosen fields. Unconditional love underpinned that family, along with sensible boundaries and guidelines.
    Only recently I had the privilege a couple of times of looking after the oldest one’s eight children and the experience was exactly the same. Each household ran like clockwork but the kids were always laughing, having fun and playing ‘nice’ tricks on each other. There was a chore sheet on the fridge and they all followed it and then the rest of the time was theirs to do their own thing which inevitably ended up with small groups playing board games or playing sport or doing hobbies.
    Because the parents taught love and respect – along with responsibility – and grew up with the Bible as their guide, they are the most delightful family of adults you could ever meet.

  4. Zero my optimum number. And we really need to be looking at population growth. We can’t increase forever!!!!

  5. I was the youngest of 3 children and had a wonderful childhood, except that my sister (13 years older than me) was very jealous and was quite nasty to me in later years.
    My husband was the eldest of 7 which caused a few problems as they got older……he was the least favourite and so our children got left out. Overall, the size of a family is a personal choice. Just love your children equally as they are all individuals.

    1 REPLY
    • Christa Your statement “All being individuals ” is certainty the most important thing to nuture and accept in any sized family. Good and Bad points in everyone.

  6. I was 4 th in a family of 6 and I’m sure my sisters didn’t have a choice in caring for younger siblings. It was only as I grew to adulthood that I truly appreciated them. I had 4 and once again, the oldest always has that responsibility of caring for younger siblings. Not fair really.

  7. My parents came from big families. I was the second of five with two brothers and two sisters. Now sadly I’m the eldest.

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