Mom Thoughts on Happiness

Tuesday April 20, 2010

Can you raise your happiness level and raise happy kids, too?

Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?

Kristen at Motherese posted about an online book club, and the first book sounded really interesting to me: Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. I got a copy and delved in.

It's been quite thought-provoking, in a good way. There is much in the book I agree with and a few things I take issue with. But overall, I feel like there's a lot to be gleaned from this book.

Can we make sure we – and our children – are happy?

Carter’s introduction lays a foundation for some scientific research about happiness, and it makes the point that it’s never too late in the parenting process to consider happiness as a skill.

In a section entitled “Out with the Guilt, In With Joy,” Carter gives us license to make mistakes. Yes, we're not perfect. In fact, she says we should "learn to embrace parenting mistakes as genuine paths to growth."

It's true -- we learn by falling. Remember your toddler's first steps? He figured out how to pick himself up and stand and step again. That's what we do as moms. But we have a hard time with that. We feel a huge responsibility and want to do it all "right." The author of Raising Happiness reminds us that conflict fuels change. When we have a tough time with something, we step back and assess our approach. And that's a good thing.

For me, grace and forgiveness figure in here, big-time. I’m thankful there’s One greater and wiser than me!

Carter advises mom to “Put On Your Oxygen Mask First” when dealing with your kids. (You know, like on the plane!) Mom’s happiness has something to do with her kids’ happiness. We model constantly; little eyes are always watching. We teach with every word, every action. If our lives are filled with happiness, we’ll be more engaged with our children and enjoy them more.

As Carter says, “Should you become faint from lack of oxygen, you won’t be much good to anyone at all.”

How to be happy? For some ideas, check out these two posts, Can a Mom Rejoice and Take Care of Yourself, Mom.

Carter also advises us to “Build a Village” – to surround our children with “other-parents,” people who love and mentor them along with us. We’ll never be everything to our children, and we have a responsibility to expand their world by exposing them to other interesting adults, too.

Her third chapter may have been the most interesting for me: “Expect Effort and Enjoyment, Not Perfection.” It’s full of ideas on how to foster a “growth mindset” in your kids – encouraging effort, determination and growth, not just natural ability or perfection. I plan to blog more about this concept in the future.

What do you think so far?

Can we raise our and our kids’ happiness quotient?

Have you found a way to build a village?

What about the parent perfection trap?

Chime in and let me know!

Join in the conversation.


Corinne Cunningham said...

I've really enjoyed this book, I just finished it tonight :)
I do think we can raise our children's happiness quota. She outlines some fantastic ways in her book - showing that happiness can actually be a choice.

Amaria said...

I keep telling my children that "obedient children are happy children"- not because I'm a control freak who wants perfectly behaved children, but because in obeying their parents, they are doing what is right in God's sight! isn't that what leads to true happiness for all of us?!

mommy to six J's said...

Thank you for the friendley reminder that us moms do make mistakes..

Richella Parham said...

Hi Laura! So nice to meet another mom of boys--aren't they grand! And a redheaded mom of boys to boot! I look forward to getting to know you better!

Southern Gal said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. My children have always been pretty obedient. No tantrums, etc. But the happy part takes work on my part.
Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I've not read the book. But I think that 'making sure our kids are happy' is way over-rated sometimes.

(of course I also had a boy who was so anxious and depressed I needed to take him to a therapist- 6 years should be wishing they were never born)

and I fully support the notion of putting your own oxygen mask on first!

Carrie Cooper said...

Carrie @

Hi, Laura!
I havent read the book, but it sounds wise and practical. I usually have to remind my 5 yr old daughter (who tends to be whiney) that she has to CHOOSE to be happy. Good points about modeling it better, from the parenting standpoint. She sees me gets frustrated with her whines. Youve given me a great reminder to be a better example of happiness. THANKS>

Anna K. said...

My oldest is a worrier. It's just the way he is. So we have to be a bit careful about how we act in front of him.

Thanks for stopping by my blog (everyday occasions)!

Cathie said...

I definitely think it's possible to raise children to be happy. It takes encouragement for anyone to be curious, adventurous, generous, positive, responsible, skilled, creative, active, and organized, as well as being content in all circumstances - all ingredients of happiness in my book.

Thanks for sharing your impressions of this book. I'm going to recommend it to my daughter, whose little girl just turned one.

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