Welcome to our ninth summer book club meeting, a discussion of Raising Happiness prompted by Katy Keim of BookSnob.  We are posting Katy’s review of Raising Happiness chapter by chapter each Thursday. This book club first ran on Motherese, so you might want to check out the comments there, too, or Motherese blogger Kristen’s related posts.

Even if you aren’t reading along, we hope you’ll join the conversation.  What came to mind as you read the chapter being discussed, or Katy’s review?  You can subscribe to the comments thread for each posting and jump in.

Chapter 9: How to Control Your Kids’ Environment.

By Katy Keim

It’s a paradox.
 Carter explores different situations and whether or not environmental factors affect a child’s happiness. The bottom line is: yes, they do, to some degree.

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But the more important point she makes in Chapter 9 is that, even if we can better control an environment for happiness, it is not necessarily a great idea to do so.

Beyond safety and a positive atmosphere (and whew, less TV people, because clearly the research is not showing any real benefits there!), our generation of parents is doing far too much to help our kids be in a “happy environment.” We talk to teachers, we ease them away from difficult friends, we lessen disappointments, and we prevent pain.

Christine reminds us that when we make everything okay for our kids, we deprive them of their chance to see what they are made of. They don’t get a chance “to develop their grit.” I liked that word and I thought that was a parenting philosophy I could get behind: I am raising kids with grit.

Grit is very closely related to resilience. Kids will learn how to cope with difficulties, understand they are capable of overcoming challenges and help them to realize that they are in control.

Chapter 9 A-ha Moment: No matter what I read about childcare, it used to cause a lot of stress. Nannies, preschools, how much is too much? What is the best approach? As a two-job family, these decisions have always seemed very loaded. I didn’t enjoy reading this piece as much, because you know what? There isn’t a perfect happiness answer on this front. I don’t want to hear the science on this.  I want my husband and I to make the best choice we can and then stop ruminating over it.

Discussion questions:

▪ What A-ha moments, if any, did you have while reading Chapter 9?
▪ How are you thinking about raising kids with grit?

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