Children who live with a step parent or a single parent are just as happy as kids in homes with two biological parents, shows a new British study.
"It's the quality of the relationships in the home that matters - not the family composition,' says Jenny Chanfreau, a member of the NatCen Social Research team that conducted the study.
"Getting on well with siblings, having fun with the family at weekends, and having a parent who reported rarely or never shouting when the child was naughty, were all linked with a higher likelihood of being happy all the time among 7-year-olds," she said.
Researchers analysed data collected from nearly 13,000 7-year-olds.
There was no significant difference in happiness levels among children in three different parenting situations: living with a biological parent and step parent, living with two biological parents or residing with a single parent.
Overall, 36% of the children said they were happy all the time, 64% said they were sometimes or never happy, according to the study presented at the British Sociological Association's annual meeting.
Even after they eliminated factors such as social class, the researchers found no differences in happiness levels between the different groups of children.
However, relationships with parents and other children strongly affected the happiness of the 7-year-olds in the study. For example, those who weren't bullied at school and got along well with their siblings were more likely to be happy all the time.
"Pupil relations at school are also important. Being bullied at school or being 'horrible' to others was strongly associated with lower happiness in the 7-year-olds, for instance," Chanfreau said.