TIME Family

Kids With One Parent Are Just as Happy as Kids With Two

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New study of 7-year olds finds family structure doesn't affect happiness in kids

When it comes to parents, quality is more important than quantity. Because new research out of the UK shows that kids who grow up with a single parent or step-parent think of themselves as no less happy than kids who grow up with their biological mom and dad.

Researchers from UK’s NatCen Social Research analyzed data from almost 13,000 children and found that children’s stated happiness had no correlation to their family structure. 36% of 7-year olds said they were “happy all the time” and 64% said they were happy “sometimes or never,” regardless of whether they were raised by two biological parents or one. This result stayed the same even when researchers controlled for social class.

Instead, relationships with family members and friendships at school were the main predictors of kids’ happiness or unhappiness, and factors such as fights or bullying had a much larger affect on kid’s stated happiness than how many parents they had.

But other research has shown that kids in single-parent homes may be more likely to become incarcerated or drop out of school, so maybe happiness isn’t everything.

 

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