Mum's the word when it comes to children's happiness

April 3, 2011

As part of the study, which will follow 40,000 UK households over a number of years, young people aged between 10 to 15 years have been asked how satisfied they are with their lives. 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.

Overall, 60 per cent of young people say they are 'completely satisfied' with their family situation but in families where the child's mother is unhappy in her , only 55 per cent of young people say they are 'completely happy' with their family situation – compared with 73 per cent of young people whose mothers are 'perfectly happy' in their relationships.

The Understanding Society research examined the relationships between married or cohabiting partners, and relationships between parents and their . Professor John Ermisch, Dr Maria Iacovou, and Dr Alexandra Skew from the Institute for Social and Economic Research found that 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.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Maria Iacovou said: "At a time when there is widespread political concern about 'Broken Britain', these findings show that family relationships and the 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 research also finds 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. But relationships with parents are even more important than relationships with siblings. Only 28 per cent of children who quarrel more than once a week with their parents, and don't discuss important matters with their are completely happy with their families.

Dr Iacovou commented: "Together these findings reveal the complex influences of different 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"

Explore further: UK youth are happy after all?

Related Stories

UK youth are happy after all?

March 2, 2011

As part of the study, which will follow 40,000 UK households over a number of years more than 2,000 young people aged between 10 to 15 years have been asked how satisfied they are with their lives. The findings indicate ...

The first steps to understanding society

February 28, 2011

The first findings from the world's largest study of households are now published. The Understanding Society publication reveals a comprehensive snap shot of UK households. Starting in 2009, the year when Britain officially ...

The UK is a nation of happy couples

February 14, 2011

Researchers at the Institute for Social and Economic Research asked both individuals in the couple to rate their happiness on a seven point scale; from the lowest score of 'extremely unhappy' to the middle point of 'happy', ...

Sibling relationships reflect family dynamics

November 15, 2006

Most children in the United States grow up with sisters and brothers. Connections that usually last a lifetime, these relationships can be strained at times, especially during childhood. New research concludes that sibling ...

Recommended for you

Science: Public interest high, literacy stable

October 28, 2016

While public interest in science continues to grow, the level of U.S. scientific literacy remains largely unchanged, according to a survey by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Experts uncover hidden layers of Jesus' tomb site

October 27, 2016

In the innermost chamber of the site said to be the tomb of Jesus, a restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where ...

Important ancient papyrus seized from looters in Israel

October 27, 2016

(—Eitan Klein, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, has announced that an important papyrus document dated to 2,700 years ago has been seized from a group of Palestinian looters who reportedly ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.