London: Move over dads! A happy mother makes a greater contribution to her child's overall happiness than the father, a study suggests.

In a survey of 6,441 women, 5,384 men and 1,268 children aged between 10 and 15 years, from 40,000 households, 60 per cent of the youngsters say they are completely satisfied with their family situation.

But in families where the child's mother is unhappy in her partnership, only 55 per cent of them admit being completely happy.

Professor John Ermisch, Maria Iacovou, and Alexandra Skew from the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), found that the happiest children are those living with two parents ­— biological or otherwise — with no younger siblings.

The study showed quarrels with parents were rare and they ate at least three evening meals every week with their family.

"These findings show that family relationships and the happiness of parents are key to the happiness of young people," Iacovou said.

"Contrary to the popular belief that children only want to spend time playing video games or watching TV, we found that they were most happy when interacting with their parents or siblings."

The research also finds that having older siblings is not related to children's happiness with their family, but having younger siblings in the household is associated with lower levels of satisfaction. The younger the siblings, the greater the effect, the study said.

But relationships with parents are even more important than relationships with siblings. Just 28 per cent of children who quarrel more than once a week with their parents and did not discuss important matters with them, were completely happy with their families.