A new UK study suggests a mother’s happiness in her relationship with her partner is linked to how a child perceives their own life satisfaction.
The findings come from an ongoing study of 40,000 UK households where children between the ages of 10 to 15 years were asked if they were satisfied with their lives.
In families where the mother is unhappy in her partnership, only 55 percent of young people said they are “completely happy” with their family situation compared with 73 percent of young people whose mothers are “perfectly happy” in their relationships.
The findings indicate that a mother’s happiness in her partnership is more important to the child than the father’s.
The findings are based on a sample of 6,441 women, 5,384 men and 1,268 young people.
Researchers discovered the happiest children are those living with two parents – either biological or step – with no younger siblings, who do not quarrel with their parents regularly, who eat at least three evening meals per week with their family and whose mother is happy in her own relationship.
Drs. John Ermisch, Maria Iacovou, and Alexandra Skew from the Institute for Social and Economic Research led the research.
Iacovou 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 video games or watching TV, we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings.”
Researchers believe the finding also show that having older siblings is not related to children’s happiness with their family, but having younger siblings in the household is associated with lower levels of satisfaction, and this effect is greater the more younger siblings there are in the household.
However, relationships with parents are even more important than relationships with siblings. Only 28 percent of children who quarrel more than once a week with their parents, and don’t discuss important matters with them, are completely happy with their families.
The research is part of a a major research study called “Understanding Society” that tracks the fortunes, attitudes and circumstances of 100,000 people living in the UK and examines their behaviors and beliefs.
“Together these findings reveal the complex influences of different family relationships on a child’s happiness,” said Iacovou.”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.”