A new study from an Australian university found parents with four or more kids are the happiest.
When I saw the headline of this article, Study Finds Happiest Parents Have Four or More Kids, I thought for sure that it was from The Onion and a total joke. Alas, it is not a joke but the actual results of a study by Australia's Edith Cowan University. How on Earth can this possibly be true?! I only have one child and it is a lot of work and stress (and joy and happiness, of course), and people I know with three kids seem to have super-crazy lives—and, frankly, complain about the hecticness a fair amount. So four kids can't possible make for the happiest parents...right?
Well, according to Dr. Bronwyn Harman in the psychology and social science school at Edith Cowan, it does. She spent five years studying what types of families are most content, interviewing hundreds of parents from different family makeups to measure their resilience, social support, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. She expected that parents with more children would be less happy, but surprisingly found the opposite to be true: Parental happiness 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," Harman told The Sydney Morning Herald. Though larger families are more chaotic and expensive than smaller ones, her research shows those issues are balanced by the amount of joy received from having more children.
The moral of the story? Don't pop out more kids if you don't really want them, thinking it will make you happier. It won't. It only works if you actually wanted a giant brood in the first place.
Whew. Glad I read through to the end before ditching the birth control.
Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor and writer who is an only child married to an only child and happily raising an only child. Check out Ellen's new Etsy shop and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.