Here, at last, is a book brimming with the good news of raising children—the basic reassuring news about happiness and unconditional love, about enduring family connections and kids who grow up right. Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., father of three and a clinical psychiatrist, has thought long and hard about what makes children feel good about themselves and the world they live in. Now, in The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, Dr. Hallowell shares his findings with all of us who care about children.
As Dr. Hallowell argues, we don’t need statistical studies or complicated expert opinions to raise children. What we do need is love, wonder, and the confidence to trust our instincts. This inspiring book outlines a 5-step plan that all parents can use in giving their children the gift of happiness that will last a lifetime. Connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition: as fundamental as these five concepts are, they hold the key to raising children with healthy self-esteem, moral awareness, and spiritual values. Dr. Hallowell explores each step in depth and shows how they work together to foster trust, respect, and joy.
Privilege, wealth, and expensive “extras” are not necessary for happiness—there are many stories here of children who have overcome poverty, abandonment, and shocking deprivation to find true fulfillment. Dr. Hallowell encourages us as parents to reconnect with the moments in our own childhoods that made a difference; he explores the impact of genetics and environmental factors on the inner workings of a child’s mind; and he discusses how activities like team sports, community service, religious observance, and household chores can foster a child’s sense of mastery.
Like the works of T. Berry Brazelton and Benjamin Spock, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness is infused with the wisdom and humanity of a doctor who truly loves and understands children. Writing with the warmth of a friend and the authority of an expert, Dr. Hallowell gives us a book at once practical and exuberant, joyous and informative, eye-opening and reassuring. Ultimately, this book is a celebration of childhood and of the magic that happens between parents and the children they love.
Hallowell (Driven to Distraction) provides a refreshing look at what children really need in order to grow up to be happy adults. Hallowell argues that kids do not need straight As, a crammed schedule of extracurricular activities or even a traditional family in order to become contented adults. What children really need, according to the author, are unconditional love from someone (not necessarily a parent) and the opportunity to revel in the magic and play of childhood. Kids do not need perfect lives, and learn from adversity and failure, but for the best chance of future happiness, Hallowell says, they need five basic tenets: to feel connected, to play, to practice, attain mastery and receive recognition. It's easy to get caught up in the "great riptide that sucks kids out of childhood and into an achievement fast lane as early as nursery school," Hallowell warns. Instead, he says, parents should focus on social/emotional health and happiness, creating an environment in which kids are free to "develop the muscles of confidence, optimism and hope." Drawing upon the research of optimist expert Martin Seligman, happiness researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and others, the author offers a solid case for establishing joyful childhood roots that form the basis of adult contentment. Though occasionally overly sentimental, Hallowell's heartfelt message is essential for our fast-paced, electronic age, reminding parents and children alike to slow down, enjoy life and learn to play well.