Parents with lots of kids running around doing God knows what, be thankful—you're the lucky ones. According to a new study in Australia, parents with at least four children get the most satisfaction out of life despite the chaos and higher expenses, the Daily Signal reports. "With large families, we think they have social support within the family," study lead Bronwyn Harman tells ABC News Australia. "The kids are never bored, they have someone to play with and they get independence quite early on." She interviewed 950 parents over a 5-year period to evaluate their happiness level, Yahoo reports, and asked them about self-esteem, social support, and resilience. While parents with big families did have issues—like people asking if the kids had multiple fathers—they were still the most satisfied.
Harmon thought they'd be stressed out, but "they said that they had planned a large family, it was a joyful experience for them, the house was often full of laughter, and there were many reasons to celebrate," she says. Second-happiest (by a razor-thin margin of 0.25%) were LGBT parents, who also planned their families and went the extra mile of getting kids by surrogacy, IVF, or adoption. "These children are not accidents ... so the child is very much desired," says Harmon. The least happy in her still-unpublished study were single dads, who she says are often seen as lesser parents and struggle to play a role in their childrens' lives. "There is this perception that mothers are the real parents and fathers just sort of help," Harmon tells the Sydney Morning Herald. (Now see what 53,000 children have to say about happiness.)