Dianne Range, Case Manager/Social Worker for Hope Academy

In all my years of working with parents, I’ve never met a parent that didn’t want their child to have a happy life and be raised in a happy home.  So what makes a child happy?  What makes a happy home?  Several years ago I came across a book by Diane Loomans called “Full Esteem Ahead.”  In the book, she describes an activity that she regularly does with parents requiring them to ask their children two questions:  “What is a happy home like?” and “What makes our home feel good?”   She reports that parents are consistently amazed at their children’s response.  Contrary to what you might expect, the children overwhelmingly respond with simple everyday ordinary things.

The following are some of the answers the children gave:

  1. Hug More:  “When I come home my mom and dad hug me a lot.  That’s when my house feels happiest.”
  2. Cook Together:  “I like it when we cook something yummy together—like cookies or bread—and the house smells delicious!”
  3. Dance and Play Music Together:  “In my house, when it’s happy, there is music playing and we all dance together.  My dad teaches us the cha-cha-cha!”
  4. Play Games Together:  “A home is happy when everybody has fun playing checkers or Monopoly and eats popcorn, too.”
  5. Share Special Time Before Bed:  “I like it when my mommy brushes my hair for a long time and sings songs to me at night before bed.
  6. Show Interest in One Another:  “In a house that is happy, people ask you how your day was, and they really mean it.”
  7. Pamper One Another:  “Happy houses have big bubble baths for kids that they can stay in until all the bubbles are gone.”
  8. Create Special Moments:  “My home is happy when my mom lights candles while we eat dinner.”
  9. Play Together:  “There are cool toys that moms and dads like to play with, too!”
  10. Relax and enjoy one another: “We have lots of puppy piles—all of us lie all over each other on the couch and laugh a lot.”
  11. Communicate Openly:  “When people like each other in their house, they sit around for a while after dinner and talk about all kinds of stuff.”

We can learn a lot from these children.  The children almost never mentioned expensive clothes or trips or toys.  Instead the children put kindness, play, encouragement, connections and feeling good at the top of the list. Why not try this activity at home.  Ask your children “What is a happy home like?” and “What makes our home feel good?”  Ask for at least ten ideas and then make a commitment to surprise your child with them one by one.  A happy home is closer than you think!