The expected scenario of a blended family is that children will be confused, unhappy, perhaps even troubled.
But according to the results of the Parent24 2009 survey, multiple parents do not necessarily lead to multiple troubles.
Only 55% of parents were in a two-parent nuclear family situation. Around one in four of the respondents said they parent with more than one other parent. Around 16% were single parents.
Most likely to be happy about being a parent (85%) were those who parented with 3 other parents. But add an extra person and things do get a bit more complicated: Least likely to be happy about being parents (32%) were those who parented with 4 or more other parents. This number suggests a situation where one or both parents have re-partnered more than once, a complex situation, or a family parenting situation where aunts and uncles and grandparents are involved.
The majority of single parents and those in two-parent situations were happy, with around three out of four reporting high happiness levels about being a parent.But are the kids happy?
Happy parents and happy children, quite obviously, go hand in hand. Only 25% of children parented by 5 or more parents were rated “very happy” compared to 63% of those parented by four, 57% of those parented by three 49% of those parented by two parents and 47% of those parented by one parent.Do other parents provide support?
The younger the child, the more parents feel supported by the other parent (91,74% of parents with under 1s vs. 68,24% of parents with 18+s). Why does the teamwork seem to break down as children get older?
Says author and Parent24 expert Anne Cawood
, 'I believe that this is because of the unresolved problems that escalate as the child gets older. When the baby is younger than one, the parental differences have not yet really surfaced, especially as discipline is not yet really an issue. As parental differences, especially around issues of rules and values emerge, parents feel less supported by the other parent.
'This is possibly so much as an issue of only one parent taking responsibility for the children, but more a case of each parent feeling less supported on individual issues as their child gets older. This highlights for me the vital importance of parenting skills training and communication and relationship counselling as a matter of enormous priority in families.’
The Parent24 2009 survey had more than 8000 responses. The survey, weighted by gender, race and education, represents approximately 7 million metropolitan adults educated to the level of at least matric, across South Africa. For more about the methodology and for results analysis by Jean Redpath and Michael O’Donovan of Hlakanaphila Analytics, download the Parent24 2009 survey PDF. Or see full results.What do you think is the ideal number of parents for a child's wellbeing?