Here’s something we missed in August: large families are the happiest, according to an Australian study.

Dr Bronwyn Harman of Edith Cowan University spent five years interviewing hundreds of parents from a range of family set-ups to ascertain what life is like for different families, and how resilience, social support and self-esteem contribute to parents’ happiness.

Parents with four or more children were the most satisfied with their lot, enjoying, rather than feeling overwhelmed by, the chaos of a big family.

Although they said they have to deal with comments such as “are they all yours?” or “do they all have the same father?”, large families benefit from lots of support from each other, and are rarely bored. Children learn responsibility from an early age, and older ones help out with their younger siblings.

“[The parents] usually say they always wanted a large family, it was planned that way, and it was a lifestyle they’d chosen,” Dr Harman said.

The study found that same-sex parents were the next happiest, and that single dads were the least happy, which is not surprising, given that they are usually separated from their children.

Dr Harman talked about her findings to the Sydney Morning Herald, but it appears that the details of the study have not yet been published. It will be interesting to read more about it in due course.

A black mark for the SMH, though, which ran a tasteless, not to say offensive cartoon with their report. Evidently  the results were not to the editor’s liking. 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet