Interesting data out of the UK indicates that that kids who grow up with a single parent or step-parent think of themselves as no less happy than kids who grow up with their biological mom and dad.
Researchers from UK’s NatCen Social Research analyzed data from almost 13,000 children and found that children’s stated happiness had no correlation to their family structure. 36% of 7-year olds said they were “happy all the time” and 64% said they were happy “sometimes or never,” regardless of whether they were raised by two biological parents or one. This result stayed the same even when researchers controlled for social class.
These results surprise me.
Since becoming a parent, I have come to understand the value of a two parent household, regardless of who those parents may be. There are moments in parenting when a second opinion is essential and invaluable.
That second opinion is oftentimes the voice of reason.
When sleep-training our daughter, for example, Elysha and I would would put Clara into her crib and walk away as she began crying. Sitting downstairs, we would listen to her wail through the monitor, and invariably, one of us would crack and decide that we had waited long enough.
The other would then say, “Give it five more minutes.”
Five more minutes was all it ever took for her to fall asleep.
Today she sleeps like a rock and refuses to sleep in our bed, even if we want her to.
I’m not sure that she would be as well trained as she is had only one of us been present during sleep training.
It need not even be a second parent. Any level-headed adult will do. If Elysha was abducted by aliens next week and I found myself alone with my two children, I would immediately move one of my single friends, male or female, into my home to assist with parenting.
Not to change the diapers, make dinner or help with bathing (though that would be nice, too), but simply to serve as the voice of reason when it was needed.
To be available to provide a second opinion.
Also, happiness is not everything. Though children appear equally happy in one or two parent homes, research has also shown that children in single-parent homes are more likely to become incarcerated or drop out of school, so maybe that second opinion is as valuable as I initially thought.