Are Families With Three Or More Children Happiest?

Family of four

Research published this week revealed that the happiest families are those with three or more children.

Dad of four Harry Wallop, writing for the Telegraph, explains the data like this:

"But one of the most intriguing details to emerge is that families with three or more children are far more likely to be very happy than families with just one or two children, than single parents and also spinsters and bachelors. Those with three or more children rank their happiness as 7.4 on average, with a large minority of those (28 per cent) saying they are “highly happy”. A single man below the age of 65, in contrast, scores an average of 6.6."

Now before I get deluged with outraged comments from those of you are perfectly happy with just the one bundle of joy, or indeed who’ve had little to no choice in determining the size of your family, hear me out. I’m not bringing this up to start a fight; honest.

It’s just that it brings to mind a thought that I think is worth sharing, which is this: there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ number of children or the ‘perfect’ sized family. What makes a family happy is surely throwing yourself headlong into choosing happiness, no matter how kids you do or don’t have.

I say this as the mother of three kids; two boys who are less than two years apart in age, followed by a pretty massive age gap before our little girl came along. Do I think we’re a happier family now that we have three kids? Well, if you really pushed me on the issue I’d have to say yes. Three kids has added a certain chaotic bluster to our family dynamic that has enriched our lives beyond words.

But here’s the thing: if you’d asked me this question when I had ‘just’ the two kids, I would have said we were entirely happy as we were, and certainly didn’t ‘need’ another kid to add anything to the mix. Two kids seemed harmonious and balanced. My hubby and I always had enough hands to coral our kids into anything we needed them to do, there was never a sense that the grown-ups were outnumbered, and it never mattered that everything from cars to hotel rooms aren’t really designed to cater for families of more than four.

So if you’re reading this and agonising over whether to make the leap from two kids to three (or more…) I have only one piece of advice: DO IT. Having a third child is the most terrifying move I’ve ever made, but also hands down the best decision of my life.

But if you’re reading this and feeling mournful because, for whatever reason, there aren’t the number of chairs around your dinner table that you had hoped for, please, please don’t let these kind of statistics or silly headlined undermine your happiness. The happiness of a family is not directionally propertional to the number of people in it.

Want to be among the ‘happiest family’ statistics? Choose happiness. It really is that simple. And it doesn’t cost a thing - unlike having another kid…

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Image credit: Flickr/jeff_golden

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