New research finds children living with step-parents are just as happy as those living with biological parents

Published: 28th April 2014

A recent study, completed by senior researchers at one of Britain's leading social research institutes NatCen, has found that children are 'no less happy' living with a lone parent or step-parents then they are living with both biological parents.

The results of the study were revealed at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association in Leeds on Thursday 24th April.

The study was based on research data from two separate studies - the Millennium Cohort Study, which was conducted in 2008 and surveyed 12,877 children aged seven and the Understanding Society Study survey, which gathered data from 2,679 11 to 15 year olds from 2009-2011.

Children who live with a step-parent (and a biological parent), a lone parent or two biological parents were studied and the results showed no difference between family types, with 36% said to be 'happy all of the time' and 64% said they were 'sometimes or never happy'.

Researches tried to remove other influencers like the social status of the parents and the geographic location of where the family lives in order to study the children in isolation - but the results showed no significant differences.

It was found that a child's relationship with their parents had little effect on their happiness, where as other relationships, for example with siblings or friends at school had a greater impact on the child's happiness and well being.

NatCen Senior Researcher Jenny Chanfreau told the conference, "We found that the family type had no significant effect on the happiness of the seven-year-olds or the 11-15 year olds."

"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 among seven-year olds."

"Pupil relations at school are also important - being bullied at school or being 'horrible' to others was strongly associated with lower happiness in the seven-year-olds, for instance."

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