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Children living with step and single parents just as happy, research suggests

Children who live with step or single parents are just as happy as those living with two natural parents, researchers have claimed.

In a study presented at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference this week, researchers looked at data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a multi-disciplinary examination of the lives of 19,000 children born in the years 2000-2001.

After examining data relating to 12,877 of the featured children, they concluded that there was no meaningful difference in the happiness levels of children living with the three types of parent: step, single and biological – 36 per cent of the youngsters said they were ‘happy all the time’ and 64 per cent said they were happy ‘sometimes or never’.

This applied even when such factors as their parents’ social class were accounted for.

A separate examination of survey data on 2,679 11-15 year old children yielded similar results.

According to researcher Jenny Chanfreau, childrens’ relationships with parents, like relationships with siblings, were, by contrast, associated with an increase in happiness.

According to a report in Family Law, Ms Chanfreau told conference delegates:

“It’s the quality of the relationships in the home that matters – not the family composition. Getting on well with siblings, having fun with the family at weekends, and having a parent who reported rarely or never shouting when the child was naughty, were all linked with a higher likelihood of being happy all the time.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Chrissie says:

    For many years the media has clung to the premise that a 2 parent family is always better than one, totally riding roughshod over other factors that come into play when raising children. Children need love, care, attention and time – and while most of us would love the traditional 2.4 family as a background to this, reality has a nasty habit of tripping up our best laid plans. A happy single parent household is much more likely to provide a sound foundation for a happy childhood than a 2 person home in state of marital warfare. “It’s the quality of the relationships in the home that matters, not the composition” (Alleluja to that!)

    Let’s hope this sees the start of the end of single parents being used as scapegoats for the media for all that is wrong in society…..somehow I think this piece of research will instead be swiftly brushed under the carpet .

  2. Stitchedup says:

    “36 per cent of the youngsters said they were ‘happy all the time’ and 64 per cent said they were happy ‘sometimes or never’.”

    64 per cent happy sometimes or NEVER! (Alleluja to that?)

  3. JamesB says:

    Non resident parents are people too. This study completely disregards them. If you alienate and disenfranchise people they will turn against you and your ideas. To have legitimacy in making decisions for the family both parents should be involved, else your opinion, like this study, counts for nothing.

  4. Luke says:

    I am more interested in how children actually fare when looked at objectively – and the results of this are unequivocal for our society – children do better where both parents are in the home.

    There will always be exceptions, but let’s not pretend that generally this isn’t how it is.

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