Parents are happiest with this number of children, new research reveals

·5 min read
The optimum family size in terms of happiness has been revealed. (Getty Images)
The optimum family size in terms of happiness has been revealed. (Getty Images)

How many children to have is an age old debate, but for any parents currently questioning whether to have another child, science has revealed the family size that makes for the happiest households. 

UK baby retailer, Online4Baby.com set about finding the answer to the perfect number of children for a happy life.

And it turns out that Brits are pretty decisive about the optimum family size with 49% of UK adults believing that two children is the perfect number for a happy life. 

In the YouGov survey, of 2,000 UK parents, results showed that almost half think that having two children will bring the highest level of happiness.  

This was followed by three children which is the magic number for 14% of UK adults, and one child which 10% of families believe is the perfect patter of tiny feet. 

When it comes to the biggest motivator for having another child, it’s the parents with one that have the greatest desire to add to their family, with 14% wanting their child to have a sibling so they always have a friend and 5% not wanting to have an only child.

Having another child isn’t right for every family, however, and it seems there are certain factors that may be putting parents off from adding to their brood.

Amidst rising inflation, growing childcare costs and an unstable economy, it’s no surprise that one in five adults (20%) are stalling about from bringing another life into the world. 

Interestingly this is higher amongst men, with one in four viewing family finances as a negative factor.

Read more: Kids' screen-time 'doubled during pandemic'. Here's how to bring it down again

Only 10% said having one child was the optimum family size. (Getty Images)
Only 10% said having one child was the optimum family size. (Getty Images)

Commenting on the results, systematic practitioner Dr Jocelyne Kenny from The Pocket Family Psychologist, says: “The data broadly seems to replicate the idea that family happiness often depends, in part on how well ‘resourced’ a family is. 

"The survey includes questions which capture the idea of the various resources available to families, including finances, but also how much focus parents have for other children and their own relationship, living space, sleep, personal careers and other concepts that can be understood as resources available to families at any point in time."

Watch: 78% of parents polled say the pandemic allowed them to get to know their children better

Clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr Andrea Shortland adds: “Generally, families are seen as doing the best they can with the ‘resources’ they have - money, time, emotional wellbeing, the ability to communicate etc. 

"The survey finds that the majority of respondents believe that two children is the ‘ideal’ number for family happiness, but the majority of respondents also have two children. This reflects the idea that family happiness comes when we see ourselves as being able to cope with the demands placed on us by family life with the resources we have to meet these demands.”

Read more: Nature makes children happier: How to encourage kids to spend time outside

Having two children is the optimum family size according to a recent survey. (Getty Images)
Having two children is the optimum family size according to a recent survey. (Getty Images)

How to decide the right family size for you

Cath Ranson, editor at ChannelMum.com, says deciding on how many children to have can be a tricky issue for parents with many factors coming into play. 

“The issue of family size is a contentious one, with some eco groups advocating for parents to have no more than two children," she explains. 

"But with more families choosing to have just a single child and one in five women not having any children at all, overall British birth rates are on the decline."

While two may be the current magic number for families, Ranson questions how much of that is down to finances and starting our families later in life.

"Our own surveys have found young women would ideally like three children, but simply can’t stretch to afford them. Raising a child costs at least £150,000 and few families have the means to afford more.

“It’s important to remember though it isn’t the quantity of children you have that really matters, but the quality of your family life together.”

Read more: Unusual methods parents are using to choose baby names

Does big family = big joy? (Getty Images)
Does big family = big joy? (Getty Images)

Mum-of-five Amber Allen from Meet the Wildes said: “Choosing how many children to have is a deeply personal decision – and often one you have little control over.

"While many may want to create a family to order its Mother Nature who has the ultimatum on what you get. 

"As parents to five children including two sets of twins, we are unusual in the UK where most families stop at two. There’s no denying it is hard work but my children are growing up surrounded by love, laughter and supportive siblings.

“Until they become a parent, no one really knows how many children they want. It’s a decision made by your heart and your inner longing to bring new life into the world. As long as you can cope personally and financially, your heart will always expand to love one more!”

Watch: Woman gets real about pressures parents with only one child face to have more kids. 

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting