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The secret to raising happy kids? Mom's the word

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If the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother, then the most important thing for a mother is to be happy with her partner.

According to a new study of 40,000 British households, children's overall happiness is linked to their mother's own happiness with her partner. A mother's happiness was also found to be more important to her children than their father's.

The study, conducted by researchers at Britain's Institute for Social and Economic Research, found that 60 per cent of children, aged 10 to 15, said they were "completely satisfied" with their home life overall.

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But when the children's mothers reported being unhappy with their partnerships, only 55 per cent of the children said they were "completely happy" with their family situation, compared with 73 per cent whose mothers were in happy relationships.

"These findings show that family relationships and the happiness of parents are key to the happiness of young people," researcher Dr. Maria Iacovou said in a press release. "Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing videogames or watching TV we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings."

Researchers found that the happiest children were those who were living with two parents, regardless of whether they were biological or step-parents. The happiest children also had no younger siblings, and ate at least three dinners a week with their family.

Having older siblings did not appear to impact a child's happiness, but having younger siblings was linked with lower levels of satisfaction. However, researchers said children's relationships with their parents were more important to their general happiness than their relationships with their brothers and sisters.

Weigh in: Are your kids generally happy? How much do you think your attitude influences them?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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