Many of us believe that having children is the key to happiness and a perfect family life. Naturally, this idealistic image is true for some, but researchers say that in reality, children make us happiest when they fly the nest - when they have grown up and left home. Researchers in Germany looked at data from a survey of 55,000 over 50-year-olds living in Europe. The survey respondents were quizzed about their emotional wellbeing. The researchers discovered that most parents were happier with life after their offspring had left home and started making their own way in life. Researchers say this could be because raising children creates financial worry, stress, fatigue and anxiety.
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The research was led by Christoph Becker at Heidelberg University. He concluded that a big reason for parents being happiest when their children leave home is that the tables are turned and the children provide more support to their parents. He said parents whose children no longer live with them suffer from fewer symptoms of depression and have a more positive outlook on life. Regarding the role reversal in providing support, Mr Becker said: "Children's roles as caregivers, providers of financial support or simply as a means of social contact might outweigh the negative aspects of parenthood." He added that maintaining family relationships may stave off loneliness in ageing parents.