Children living with a lone parent are as happy as those with 2


April 25, 2014 |

Children living with a step-parent or a lone parent are as happy as those living with two biological parents, the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Leeds heard today [Thursday 24 April].

In a major UK study on wellbeing, researchers from NatCen Social Research analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study on 12,877 children aged seven in 2008 and found no significant difference in happiness.

Whether the children lived with two biological parents, a step-parent and biological parent, or in a single parent family, made no difference to how they rated their happiness: 64% said they were happy ‘sometimes or never’, and 36% said they were ‘happy all the time’.

Even when the researchers statistically removed the effects of other factors such as parental social class so that the effects of family type were isolated, the results showed no significant differences.

Jenny Chanfreau, Senior Researcher at NatCen, told the conference that, in contrast, relationships with parents and other children were strongly linked with how likely the seven-year-olds were to be happy. For instance, factors such as getting on well with siblings and not being bullied at school were associated with being happy all the time.

Ms Chanfreau said they found a similar result when analysing another set of survey data on 2,679 children aged 11 to 15 in the UK – this also showed no significant statistical difference in the level of wellbeing among children in the three types of family when the effects of family type were studied in isolation.

Ms 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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Ms Chanfreau worked with Cheryl Lloyd, Christos Byron, Caireen Roberts, Rachel Craig and Sally McManus of NatCen Research on the analysis and report, and Danielle De Feo of the Department of Health also contributed.

Results summary:

In the Millennium Cohort Study survey, data were gathered in 2008 on 12,877 children aged seven, and their parents.

Of those children living with two biological (or adoptive) parents: 64% said they were ‘sometimes or never’ happy and 36% said they were happy ‘all the time’. The exact same percentages were found for those living with one step-parent and one biological parent, and for those living with a lone parent.

The researchers then statistically controlled for other factors, such as their parents’ class and the level of the deprivation in the area where the home was, so that the influence of the family type on the seven-year-olds could be studied in isolation.

After doing this they found that those in living with a step-parent and a biological parent, and those living with a lone parent, were marginally less likely to be in the ‘happy all the time’ category, but this result was negligible and not statistically significant, and so was discounted.

Instead, factors such as relationships with others were found to be both important and statistically valid, including getting on with their siblings, having friends, having fun with the family or not being bullied at school.

A fourth family type – those not living with either a natural or adoptive parent – was linked with reduced happiness, but there were so few children in this category (forming only 0.3% of the total) that no further statistical analysis could be carried out.

The researchers also used data from the Understanding Society Study survey, gathered from 2009-2011 on 2,679 people aged 11 to 15. After removing other factors to isolate the effect of family type, the researchers found that those living with one step-parent and one biological parent were slightly more likely to be happier than those living with two biological (or adoptive) parents, and that those living with a lone parent were slightly less likely to be as happy as those living with two biological parents; however neither result was statistically significant and both were discounted. In effect, the family type had no effect on the 11-15 year-olds’ happiness.


84 Responses to Children living with a lone parent are as happy as those with 2

  1. Jim October 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    This blog is written by a liar and a scumbag and is contributing to the destruction of the modern family. I am a victim of the state, and all those who profit from the destruction of families.

    Piss off. I wish you only misery and misfortune for all your worthless life.
    You are a waste of air.

  2. kagiso May 8, 2014 at 4:28 am #

    I definitely agree with the blog,a child`s happiness depends not on whether they are raised by biological parents or not.But their happiness depends on the type of people they have as parents.You find in some instances a child with abusive biological parents or a child with non-biological parents but living a healthy happy life.

  3. u14330271 May 7, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Children living with a step-parent or a lone parent are as happy as those living with two biological parents, a study indicates. In a major UK study on wellbeing, researchers analyzed data from 12,877 children aged seven in 2008, and found no significant difference in happiness. Whether the children lived with two biological parents, a step-parent and biological parent, or in a single parent family, made no difference to how they rated their happiness: 64% said they were happy ‘sometimes or never’, and 36% said they were ‘happy all the time’.

  4. Martin(14103312) May 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    I agree with this blog as some people can be bad parents and just because you’re leaving with both biological parents doesn’t necessarily guarantee overall happiness. Some parents stay together “for the children” even when the relationship is bad for them and the kids themselves. I believe that a parent that is present in their child’s lives, make for happier children. Some parents make a lot of money, but are never there for their kids, on the other hand some parents don’t make a lot of money, but are present. And so making for happier kids. However, this doesn’t mean poorer people make for better parents, some just abusive.

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