Interview with Childhood Happiness Expert
Dr. Edward Hallowell is the keynote speaker at our Mommybites Summit in NYC on May 20, 2010. He has authored several books on parenting, including one titled The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. We asked Dr. Hallowell to answer five questions about his own parenting and childhood.
1. What do you really want for your children in their lives?
I want my kids to grow up to be happy. I want them to feel fulfilled in their lives, feel excited about life, look forward to each new day, and live a life of goodness and joy. I also firmly believe that with God’s help they will do this, because Sue and I have worked hard to give them the kind of childhood that leads to joy and fulfillment. If you’re curious about the plan we followed, check out my book, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness.
2. What does unconditional love look like in our day-to-day lives?
Most of all, being there no matter what. You show love by showing up. You show love by never turning away, never humiliating a person, always trying to understand. The greatest gift we can give, our love, is transmitted by our taking the time to be there and to work to understand. Then the fun begins, which is connection and play.
3. What ways do you foster a healthy self-esteem in your children?
Begin with a loving connection. Give them as positively connected childhood as you can, with as many positive points of connection as possible. In that context, encourage them to try new stuff, to learn and explore. Confidence and self esteem are the direct result of making progress at any task that is both challenging and important to the individual. Grades mean little compared to the effect of making progress at tasks that are important to the person and challenging. Teachers, coaches, parents, and others are important in that they can intervene to help a child make progress at such tasks.
4. What is your single-most memorable moment from childhood?
A flood of memories come to mind when asked that question. My mother’s smile as she stood at the door waving goodbye when I went off to school was the first one that occurred to me. One of the great gifts my mother gave me is that in her eyes I always saw smiles.
5. What makes you happy?
Loving connection is what makes me happy, more than anything else. Seeing my children thrive makes me happy. Embracing my dear friend, Peter Metz, makes me happy. Eating a meal with my wonderful wife, Sue, makes me happy. Being greeted by my manic Jack Russell, Ziggy, tail wagging fast as can be, makes me happy. The look on my kids’ faces as they fall asleep makes me happy. Christmas morning makes me happy. Seeing the Red Sox makes me happy, and the Patriots, too. Coming in out of the rain makes me happy. Seeing snow on bare trees makes me happy and walking on the beach makes me happy. Writing makes me happy, seeing patients in my practice makes me happy, and listening to the Boston Symphony in person makes me happy. Imagining God makes me happy, and feeling the presence of God as I look at the grass in my backyard at sunset. Connection is the key to joy. Children are masters of connection. Loving connection is where we find the meaning of life and our greatest fulfillment.