Young people’s satisfaction with their family situation is clearly related to the quality of relationships with parents and especially their mother’s happiness. The research findings come from the first findings from Understanding Society, the world’s largest household panel study managed by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex.
As part of the study, which will follow 40,000 UK households over a number of years, young people aged between 10 to 15 years have been asked how satisfied they are with their lives. The findings indicate that a mother’s happiness in her partnership is more important to the child than the father’s. The findings are based on a sample of 6,441 women, 5,384 men and 1,268 young people.
Overall, 60 per cent of young people say they are ‘completely satisfied’ with their family situation but in families where the child’s mother is unhappy in her partnership, only 55 per cent of young people say they are ‘completely happy’ with their family situation — compared with 73 per cent of young people whose mothers are ‘perfectly happy’ in their relationships.
The Understanding Society research examined the relationships between married or cohabiting partners, and relationships between parents and their children. Professor John Ermisch, Dr Maria Iacovou, and Dr Alexandra Skew from the Institute for Social and Economic Research found that the happiest children are those living with two parents — either biological or step — with no younger siblings, who do not argue with their parents regularly, who eat at least three evening meals per week with their family and whose mother is happy in her own relationship.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Maria Iacovou said: “At a time when there is widespread political concern about ‘Broken Britain’, these findings show that family relationships and the happiness of parents are key to the happiness of young people. Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing videogames or watching TV we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings.”