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Happiness begins from the moment when parents decide that they want to have children, not from the moment when they discover that they are actually on their way. Parenthood is happier – and its resultant children are also happier – if the process is a conscious one. In other words, parents must make a deliberate choice to have children, must wish to experience the ups and downs of pregnancy together, must welcome with equal joy the birth of a son or daughter, must look forward to the new life that will gradually grow and develop its own future. If you can do this, then your children will be something more than just someone to look after you when you are old; or someone to take over the family business in later years; or someone to have that glittering sports career you so dearly wanted for yourself. If you can do this, then you will ensure that your children grow up in an atmosphere of love and contentment, rather than violence and rejection. If we want more happy people, then we need to make greater efforts to inform future parents about the importance of consciously opting for a child. Because as a parent you must be willing to make a lifelong promise to that child: ‘I will always be there for you, wherever you are, whatever you do, I will never let you go, you can always count on my love and support.’ Unconditionally. In other words, you must make the promise without expecting (let alone insisting) that these feelings are reciprocated. For the child, having happiness is the unconditional element in their parents’ promise. And the conscious feeling of being happy grows from the unconscious state of having happiness. Is this naïve? Is this spoiling your child? No, because research has confirmed that children are born completely defenceless at birth. In other words, they are totally dependent on adults. If a baby is not cared for, it will die. That is the harsh reality of life. Children who are given food but little love develop slowly, are often thin and small for their age. But if a parent cherishes a baby, speaks to it, cuddles it, feeds, it, tickles it, laughs with it, then both parent and child will discover the most wonderful of all nature’s gifts: true empathy and true attachment between two human beings. This attachment is a kind of human ‘glue’ – and sticks a whole lifetime long. This means that your toddler can sit at school, safe in the knowledge that you have not forgotten him. It means that your teenage daughter can call you in the middle of the night if she needs to, and knows that you will always come. It means that your grown-up children can still call you for emergency babysitting duty, when their regular sitter fails to turn up. They all know that you have sworn an oath: ‘I have given you life and so I will always be there for you.’ Unconditionally. Researchers are continuing to discover more and more about the neurological anchoring of the attachment processes between parents and children, which can have an influence on emotional, intellectual and relational development. If children are abandoned to their fate, or are forced to live in a climate of continual parental stress or partner violence, or have a parent with serious psychological difficulties, parts of their brains will develop

with fewer than normal neural networks, when compared with children who are brought up in a loving environment. These deficiencies can later translate into reduced linguistic ability, a reduced ability to recognize and express emotions, a higher likelihood of impulsive, aggressive or hyperactive behaviour, greater difficulty in acquiring maturity, and a reduced capacity to empathise with others, which significantly increases the risk of personality disorders, juvenile delinquency and partner violence. Happiness is therefore a choice, and it is a hard choice. It is not something romantic, that suddenly overcomes you. It is a gift that you have, a gift that you can give to someone else. Whoever receives the gift of happiness from their parents will also find it easier in later life to accept the responsibility of passing that gift on to others. If you choose to have a child, we must dare to say to each other: this child has the right to receive happiness. This can cause some parents to doubt their ability to bring up their children properly, but the very fact that this doubt exists suggests that the current generation of parents will accomplish their task. Doubt is a good attitude for any educator (and parents are educators, too!) who wishes to achieve a true meeting of minds with a child. >

Profile for What Makes You Happy magazine

What Makes You Happy Magazine - Issue 1  

The Happy Magazine

What Makes You Happy Magazine - Issue 1  

The Happy Magazine

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