What starts as a specific attachment with parents, will gradually develop into a broader emotional network with family, neighbours, friends at school, teachers and other ‘educators’. During the teenage years, peers will assume a prominent place in their lives. Sometimes this can have a healthy effect on the development of young people, but sometimes it can be damaging. Many parents underestimate their influence during this phase of their child’s life, and often feel pushed to one side in the emotional maelstrom of rapidly developing adolescence. Appearances are deceptive, however, and your offspring’s seeming indifference is purely superficial – providing you have invested enough love and effort in your child’s growth from the day of its birth. If your teenager is frightened, lonely or in trouble, he will always know who to turn to first. The human glue will do its work – and he will go looking for his parents.
Happiness is not a series of pleasant moments which you share with your children. These moments are certainly fun, and can add a great deal of pleasure to life. However, happiness is much more than that. It is the quiet contentment which comes from the certain knowledge that there will never be a moment when your child, no matter how old he or she might be, will ever feel truly alone in the world. You know – as Milton Erickson has put it – that they will always hear the voice of their parents whispering softly in their ear. Professor Peter Adrianenssens in a child and adolescent psychiatrist and family therapist. He is clinical professor at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and is founder and director of the Confidential Centre for Child Abuse & Neglect. Adapted from The Voice of Your Parents by Peter Adriaenssens, and excerpted from The World Book of Happiness, edited by Leo Bormans, published by Firefly Books, 2011 ($29.95 paperback). Special thanks to Dan Piraro for his Happy Homelife cartoon.
The Happy Magazine