Study: Parents With Four Or More Kids Are The Happiest – WHY? Here Is ReaSon

September 11, 2017
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Study: Parents With Four Or More Kids Are The Happiest – WHY? Here Is ReaSon

A new study has surprised the researchers by uncovering that it is parents with four or more kids who are happiest. Rebel chats to some big-family matriarchs to see if this is really the case.

Bet you’re thinking the perfect number is two, or maybe even none. Nope, you’re way off.

Dr Bronwyn Harman, of the psychology and social science school at Edith Cowan University, spent five years studying what types of families are most content, and even she was surprised by the result.

The happiest parents are – drumroll, please – parents with four or more kids. Hey, that’s me! Let’s look at why it works …

How does having more kids make you happier?

The research points out that parental happiness directly relates to how much effort has been put into growing the family.

“[The parents] usually say they always wanted a large family, it was planned that way, and it was a lifestyle they’d chosen,” says Dr Harman.

The findings are based on resilience, social support, self-esteem and life satisfaction. Knowing a couple of families with a truckload of kids, like me, I can see how that works.

Resilience: There is simply no time for pandering to silliness when there are so many kids to wrangle.
Social support: Strength in numbers, when you are a large family you create your own mini-community.
Self-esteem: There is a certain self-esteem that comes from kids in large families. I think it is the fact that they are brave enough to try new things, because if they don’t … they get left behind.

Having those three things functioning well in your everyday life helps the life satisfaction just fall into place without too much effort, really.


Five kids is a winning number for the Harbord family

Heidi and Paul have five gorgeous children and would not change a thing.

“Yep, I would believe that research, damn straight we are happy.” says Heidi. “We are each other’s entertainment, honestly, there is never a dull moment!”

Heidi and Paul are dear friends of mine and a parenting team to be reckoned with. They are nailing this gig. The kids are happy, the parents are happy and the overall vibe at Ranch Harbord is fun.

The foundation of their success as a family is love and respect, it is that simple. Heidi and Paul adore each other, trust each other and have each other’s backs – and the kids know it and feel it too. Everyone in this mix respects each other, the kids have each other’s backs in the same way that their folks do – it’s a beautiful thing.

Five kids, things can get wild, of course – but Heidi and Paul embrace that wildness and only tame it when it needs to be.

“You have to pick your battles,” says Heidi. “The kids know there are boundaries, and of course they push, but we can’t nag about every little thing or we’d be nagging all day. When you have so many kids, you just have to get on with things.”

“Being so busy means there is simply no time to sweat the small stuff, and when you aren’t worrying about small insignificant stuff, of course it makes sense that you’ll be happier,” she says.


As for the kids …

“There is also no time to indulge the nonsense,” says Heidi. And I completely understand what she is saying here – the Harbord kids are amazingly resilient. They have the kind of confidence that can only come from being brave enough to give anything a go. And they do – the youngest don’t let their age or size limit them, if everyone else is riding horses, motorbikes, climbing, holding snakes … then you can bet they are giving it a go too!

“If you don’t keep up you get left behind,” says Heidi.

Are there any downsides?

It can’t be all good all of the time, right?

“The price!” says Heidi. “Indulging in fun things like going to theme parks, travelling, eating out, etc., it gets pretty costly when you have so many bums on seats”.

Mary Gorgens, another beautiful mamma of five agrees.

“Financially it can be tough, but we live a lifestyle that affords us having a larger family. Not over indulgent or fancy but still able to give them their needs and wants when we can afford it. We have a mortgage and all the bills, etc. but we live happily with what we have and the kids know no different,” she says.

“Time pressures are probably the other thing. Sometimes you feel like you may not be giving them all equal attention but we try to fit in one-on-one time with each of them at different times. There’s a happiness in knowing that they seem to get this is our life and love it because it’s their home and happy place. And have each other.”

Dr Harman’s research showed that although larger families may have more chaos and expenses than smaller families, these issues are balanced by the amount of joy received from having more children.


What is the secret to making it work?

Mary says that consistency is key for keeping the wheels turning at their place.

“Each family probably has their own ways and we always joke we do things differently to a lot of others,” she says.

“We kind of beat to our own drum. But it works for us. Simon and I both try to be on the same page and help each other to get through each day with our sanity somewhat still in check. Sometimes it goes to hell but I think no matter what, the kids just want to know they are loved and protected, so even if things didn’t go perfectly well that day, they go to bed knowing all is well and we try again tomorrow.”

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