By Vidhya Ravi, lifehack.org
Want to be a happier parent? Grow your family to at least four children! According to a study out of Australia’s Edith Cowan University, parents with the most life satisfaction (which means those who are the happiest) are those that have four or more children. Dr. Bronwyn Harman, lecturer at the school of psychology and social science at the university, spent the last five years interviewing a range of different families (single parent, same sex, multiple children, single child, etc.) to evaluate their life satisfaction across a variety of categories, and her findings show that parents with four are more children are the most satisfied with their lives.
Four (or more) kids may seem like a lot, but here’s why a large family may actually make you happier.
They have an on-demand playgroup.
Having a sibling means that you have a built in playmate – particularly if you’re close in age. In particular, large families benefit from this as older children interact with younger children when they play and have the chance to learn from each other. The better your kids are at entertaining each other, the less you have to make arrangements for them to meet with other children for play dates.
In an ABC Austrailia article about her research on families, Dr. Harman goes on to explain “The kids are never bored, they have someone to play with and they get independence quite early on.”
They have a built in support network.
Parenting in isolation can be lonely. Support networks are a critical part of finding fulfillment in parenting, and while we traditionally think of these support networks as other parents or adults, your children may be able to fill this void. Children close in age can play with each other, and give their parents a chance to sit back versus having to be actively involved. Older children may be able to step in and care for younger siblings, either through baby sitting, or even just by providing company or helping out with homework. They can pitch in with household chores as well.
They are used to the crazy.
There is no point crying over spilt milk because it happens all the time! When you have four or more chilren in the house, things will be chaotic, unstructured, and just downright crazy at times. And you’re used to it, because it’s been a long time since you’ve known any different.
In the same previously referenced article, Dr. Harman explained, “Parents accept that there is chaos in their lives but it does not negate the happiness they get from their families.”
They are more resilient, and so are their kids.
You know what requests are important and what things aren’t urgent. Your kids do, too. With more siblings, no one can be the center of attention all the time, and patience is required for almost everything. That means that they are used to waiting to be served at dinner, or even that their ask for a cupcake with green frosting may not be granted every time.
Their kids are more independent.
If you had to wait for three other people to finish something before you had your turn, you’d be incented to learn how to do things for yourself, too! And that’s definitely the case with children with more than three siblings. Why wait for someone to pour you a glass of milk, or help you pack your suitcase for the upcoming vacation, when you can do it yourself? This helps mom and dad – with your kids gaining independence earlier than singletons or even children with just one sibling, that means that you can take some childcare tasks off your plate sooner.
They were prepared for this experience.
In the ABC Australia article, Dr. Harman brought this to light quite welll, “These children are not accidents – the parents have to go to a lot of trouble and expense and forethought – so the child is very much desired.”
Most parents with four or more children planned to have big families. That means that they were ready and eager to experience all the ups and downs of life with four or more kids in the house! Having a large family is something you relish and are proud of, so you enjoy the experience.
They have stronger family bonds and relationships.
In addition to a support system, your family has to learn how to get along with each other. That means that you’ve been through sibling rivalries, compromise, and difficult situations together. These bonds last a life time, teach children and parents how to work together and guide healthy human relationship building from the start.
They are more accepting of diversity and differences.
With such a large family, not everyone is going to be the same. Personalities, likes, dislikes, and habbits will be different from person to person. Large families become tolerant of differences, and open to diversity. This openness gives you a new take on life and makes you more open and adaptable to change.