I only have one older brother, so I've always been obsessed with large families. I couldn't get enough of them on TV or in movies.
I'm still envious of friends of mine who either came from large families or who have a large family because it just looks so fun, and like someone always has your back. It's funny that I didn't end up having a bunch of children, or any for that matter.
It turns out, there's further reason for me to envy a large family. According to a five-year study by Bronwyn Harman of Perth's Edith Cowan University, large families are the happiest kind of family, followed closely by families where the parents identified as LGBTQ: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning.
Dr. Harman interviewed hundreds of parents of all different family types to discover what life is like for them, and how the ability to bounce back, have support and self-esteem contributed to the parents' happiness.
Participants in the study filled out questionnaires that scored their resilience, perceived social support, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Dr. Harman then ranked the different groups of parents based on their scores.
Parents with four or more children had the best ratings in each of these areas, and separated by just 0.25 percent were LGBTQ parents.
In an article from the Better Health Channel, according to the Family Strength Research Project, happy families have certain traits in common. Typical traits in well functioning families include being able to communicate with each other, enjoying spending time and sharing activities, affection, support, acceptance, commitment, and resilience.
"With large families, we think they have social support within the family," Dr. Harman said. "The kids are never bored; they have someone to play with and they get independence quite early on."
One quality that both types of families share is the strong desire for children.
On same-sex parents being the most resilient, Dr. Harmon says, "They have to go to a lot of effort to get these children, so these children are very, very much desired ... As we move towards the idea of same-sex marriage as something we should have, the stigma around [same sex] parents is being reduced."
Dr. Harmon also commented on straight couples with large families, saying, "Parents accept that there is chaos in their lives but it does not negate the happiness they get from their families."
Even with the high cost financially of having a big family, in the end, it's worth it to the parents. The truth is that anyone who truly wants to be a parent can, regardless of their gender, age, relationship status, sexuality or income.
Dr. Harman summed it up: "What is important for kids are things like consistency, boundaries, and [to] know that they are loved, no matter what."
To know that we're loved, no matter what, is what we all need, whether we're our own families or one of a family of 16.