In teaching parenting workshops, I have found that one of the most eye-opening activities has always been the Happy Home Interview. Parents go home and ask their children two simple questions: "What is a happy home like?" and "What makes our home feel good?"
Consistently, parents come back amazed by the honesty and simplicity of the answers they receive from their children. The answers are usually about small, everyday things. Almost never have children mentioned exotic trips, pools, large houses, or expensive clothes or toys. Instead, feeling good, encouragement, kindness, play, and connection with mom or dad are at the top of the list.
Take the time to ask your child these two important questions. The answers may surprise you. Share ideas with your child on what a happy home is like, and act on some of those ideas more often.
Twenty-Four Ideas About Creating a Happy Home
Here are twenty-four ideas for creating a happy home, submitted by the children of parents from previous classes.
[Editor's Note: These suggestions can also apply for all members of a household... children or not.]
1. Hug More: "When I come home, my mom and dad hug me a lot. That's when my house feels happiest!" (Nora, age eight)
2. Create Special Moments: "My home is happy when my mom lights candles while we eat dinner." (Harvey, age ten)
3. Cook Together: "I like it when we cook something yummy together -- like cookies or bread -- and the house smells delicious!" (Robert, age nine)
4. Celebrate Art: "My house has a big refrigerator with kids' artwork and magnets all over it, and even some that fall off!" (Tobias, age five)
5. Express Affection: "I like it when Dad throws me up in the air and messes up my hair!" (Rebecca, age four)
6. Relax and Enjoy One Another: "We have lots of puppy piles -- all of us lie all over each other on the couch and laugh a lot." (Katrina, age eight)
7. Share Special Time Before Bed: "I like it when my mommy brushes my hair for a long time and sings songs to me at night before bed." (Beth, age four)
8. Play Games Together: "A home is happy when everybody has fun playing checkers or Monopoly and eats popcorn, too." (Jason, age thirteen)
9. Keep Good and Nutritious Food in the House: "My house feels good when there's lots of really good food to eat." (Merrill, age seven)
10. Play Together: "There's cool toys that moms and dads like to play with too!" (Alexi, age ten)
11. Enjoy a Pet: "A happy house has creatures in it -- a bird, gerbil, hamster, turtle, guinea pig, rat, fish, lizard, snake, dog, cat, or monkey. I've had all of them in my house, and, boy, does it smell! But in my house, it's okay." (Jerod, age ten)
12. Dance and Play Music Together: "In my house, when it's happy, there is music playing and we all dance together. My dad teaches us the cha-cha-cha!" (Amber, age eleven)
13. Appreciate One Another: "My mom sits and looks at me and smiles sometimes when my house is happy." (Kalenda, age four)
14. Listen to One Another: "Everybody listens to each other instead of yelling or screaming." (Samuel, age fourteen)
15. Remember the Extras: "A nice house has wind chimes hanging, and you can hear birds singing outside the window." (Tara, age five)
16. Pamper One Another: "Happy houses have big bubble baths for kids that they can stay in until all the bubbles are gone." (Lauren, age seven)
17. Communicate Openly: "When people like each other in their house, they sit around for a while after dinner and talk about all kinds of stuff." (Amy, age thirteen)
18. Show Interest in One Another: "In a house that is happy, people ask you how your day was, and they really mean it!" (Lisa, age fifteen)
19. Share and Read Stories Together: "Happy people read books together and tell stories by the fire about neat things." (Morley, age twelve)
20. Wrestle Together: "Families that get along like to wrestle and giggle together!" (Bo, age eleven)
21. Keep Plants or Flowers in the House: "I like it when we have flowers on the table and the whole house smells good." (Jonah, age six)
22. Have Family and Friends Visit Often: "Our house is fun when everybody has friends over and there's lots of laughing going on!" (Abe, age sixteen)
23. Acknowledge One Another: "Everyone compliments each other and does special things for each other." (Shanti, age fourteen)
24. Create a Friendly and Safe Environment: "When I'm gone, I can't wait to get home because I just like being there!" (Carlos, age twelve)
Interview Your Child About What Makes A Home Happy
Consider "interviewing" your child on what he or she thinks makes a home happy. Ask for at least ten ideas, and then surprise your child with them, one by one.
I asked Julia when she was ten years old to write down some ideas about what made her home feel good. Ironically, one of her answers was, "When my mom is doing some of the neat stuff that she tells other parents to do with their kids. That's when my home is happy!" Out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom!
Reprinted by permission of H J Kramer.
All rights reserved. ©1994
Full Esteem Ahead: 100 Ways to Teach Values and Build Self-Esteem for All Ages
by Diane Loomans & Julia Loomans.
A collection of ideas and techniques designed to make family life enjoyable and help children develop a strong sense of self-worth includes such topics as setting family goals, creative conflict resolution, and ways to have fun together.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book
About The Authors
Diana Loomans is the president of Global Learning in San Diego. She speaks nationally on the subjects of self-esteem, creativity, the power of laughter and play, and creating a positive future. Diana is the author of The Lovables in the Kingdom of Self Esteem, The Laughing Classroom: Everyone's Guide to Teaching With Humor and Play, Positively Mother Goose, and Today I Am Lovable. Visit her website at www.dianaloomans.com
Julia Loomans (now Godoy) wrote the excerpts for this book at fifteen and sixteen. She was twice selected to attend the Young Authors Conference and has won awards for her writing. She participates with her mother in presentations on self-esteem and is the co-author of Positively Mother Goose.