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How Do Children Affect Their Parents' Happiness?

Posted Nov 01 2010 1:32pm

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how people affect each other with their positivity or negativity.

That question presented itself with particular force this Saturday, because my five-year-old woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and by the end of the day, all four of us were in very crabby moods.

One of the big, persistent questions within happiness is: how do I maintain my emotional self-sufficiency while also staying very engaged with the people around me? (Or, put another way, am I so shallow that a five-year-old's whining can ruin my day?)

I've heard the saying, "You're only as happy as your least happy child." Now, one grumpy day isn't the same thing as having a truly unhappy child. That would have a major, persistent influence on my happiness.

I've read research on how parents affect their children -- in particular, how parents' depression affects children. But I haven't read much about how children affect their parents, and yet, from my own experience, I think it's very significant. Ah, a new area to research.

What do you think? Does that happiness, or lack thereof, of your children make a big difference to you?

* I'm a big fan of the work of Daniel Pink, and I always find lots of interesting material on his blog, Dan Pink .

* If you've been waiting for your bookplate, replacements finally did arrive, and I'm almost caught up. Sorry about the delay! If you'd like a personalized, free bookplate to give as a holiday gift, let me know now, to get it mailed while there's still plenty of time -- or ask for one for yourself. Feel free to request as many as you like. Just email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. Don't forget to include your mailing address.

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