It might be counter-intuitive, but a new study indicates that parents with four or more kids are actually happier as parents:
[Study author Dr. Bronwyn] Harman spent five years interviewing hundreds of parents from different family makeups and based her findings on resilience, social support, self-esteem and life satisfaction.
“What is important for kids are things like consistency, boundaries and [to] know that they are loved, no matter what,” Harman explained, The Daily Signal reports.
Harman initially believed parents with more children would be less happy, but her research concluded that the joy parents get from their children balances out the chaotic family nature than that of a smaller family.
If the findings from the study hold true, what could be some of the reasons for them? I have five children, and I can say that I have grown happier the more children there have been in my family. Some of the reason for that is the variety of personalities floating around in my house. It’s a delight to see. Some of it is seeing the older kids doting on the babies. Some of it is the fact that it’s actually easier and less expensive “per unit” to have more children.
It’s that last point that takes some additional explanation. Many people have asked how my family can afford to pay for so many children. They assume that the cost of five children is five times the cost of one child. That’s not the case. From food to clothes to housing, it’s generally the case that each additional child requires far less additional investment than he or she would if she were alone. Clothes can be passed down, meals can be stretched, rooms can be shared, etc.
But it’s also the case that the emotional strain on parents lessens with more children, sometimes moving into the surplus range. Because the work that you put into teaching your first children the rules is usually carried down to the younger children by the older. The environment of generosity you instill in the first children begins to take shape in the younger children, often without an equal effort on your part.
At this point, I have five children seven and under, yet I still feel like most days are on relative auto-pilot between the schedule that has been established and the family culture we’ve developed. It’s largely self-sustaining. And the benefit doesn’t just accrue to the parents. I grew up with five siblings (all sisters actually). I had a fantastic childhood. And my children are well-adjusted, socialized, friendly, and a joy to be around. Having five children has already been returning prodigious dividends of joy to me and my wife. So I can attest from personal experience that this study strikes true. Here’s to “large” families.