I only have one older brother, so I’ve always been obsessed with large families.
I’m still envious of friends of mine who either came from large families or who have a large family because it just looks like constant fun, and someone always has your back.
In fact, it’s funny that most people in this situation don’t end up having a bunch of kids, or any for that matter.
And as it turns out, there’s further reason 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.
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 added, “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 like this: “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.
Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She’s had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman’s Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted in August 2015 and was updated with the latest information.