12 Apr 2015

What defines a happy childhood?

The other day my father-in-law asked me a seemingly simple question, but the more I think about it, the more meaningful it becomes. It was Easter Monday, we were in the living room and I was playing with the kids when he asked me, quite out of the blue, whether I’d had a happy childhood.

The question was a bit unexpected, and at the time my answer was just a simple: “Yes, it was a great childhood” - which is the truth - and we kind of left it at that.

However, I've been thinking about it ever since. Now that I have kids myself, I can’t help pondering: What defines a happy childhood? And how can I make sure that my kids have a happy childhood?

As my parents' only child, I had everything I could have wanted – within reason, I might add, as I do think that Mum and Dad managed to strike a good balance between what I wanted and what I needed, while conveying the value of everything and instilling in me an appreciation for the things I was lucky enough to have.

I had the lovely holidays around the world, the toys, the clothes I wanted (though I do remember many a fight with my Mum to get the “in” items, the over expensive branded things, that she felt were unnecessary but that I insisted my life depended on *Hello Levi’s 501*), the piano and violin lessons, trips away, lovely birthday parties, that first car, and much much more. And, looking back, they were certainly the things that helped make my childhood a lovely one.

But these are just material things, at the end of the day. More importantly, I had things that money can’t buy, and that essentially are the fundamentals of a truly happy childhood, but that most of us take for granted:

I had love; lots of love, and attention, sometimes more than I could handle without feeling suffocated, but I’ve always known that I am and always will be the focus of my parents’ life.

My parents gave me a home, but more than that, they gave me roots, stability and security, throughout whatever else may have been going on in our lives.

They also gave me the respect and freedom to be my own little person and eventually go off and find my own place in the world.

They gave me values and a moral framework, but also encouraged me to think for myself and make my own – often differing – opinions – from early childhood, actually.

They gave me, and still do, their undivided, uncompromised support for everything I do, even if it’s things that break their heart, like their only daughter moving to a different country, 1000 miles away from them.

They made sacrifices to give me everything - emotional, material and otherwise. 

And they did that, throughout all the ups and downs and challenges and crises and worry that every family – us included – go through in life. That, I could always be sure of.

Now I’m a parent, I hope that I am and always will be giving my kids the same things, make them feel the same way.

Of course, if you asked Becky right now what makes her happy, it would be all the material things - new toys, dressing up costumes, pink dresses, ballet etc.

And for Alex, it's mainly having cuddles and being fed and kept clean.

But I hope that when they grow up, they will look back and appreciate, just like I do now, that it wasn't just the material things, but all the other, unspoken stuff that made their childhood a happy one. 

Let's Talk Mommy


  1. I love this sentiment and it's so true. I think happy childhood comes from what you've experienced, not from what you have. Though it may take a while to realize it, material things take a backseat to those feeling of love and care that we feel with our loved ones. Thank you so much for sharing such an endearing post!

  2. I think that the things they will look back on are not the material things but the other wonderful, simple stuff. For example, I remember that if my dad made my sandwiches they were in really cool shapes - those are the memories of childhood. Great post #sharewithme

    1. Thank you Charlotte! Those sandwiches sound great and sure make a lovely childhood memory. I really hope I will provide my kids with memories, feelings and experiences like this. :-) xx

  3. I loved reading this. Your memories of childhood made me smile.

    Like you, I think that if I asked my sons right now what makes them happy they would mention quite a few material things. But as children we are unaware of the things that are constantly there. Love, support and trust (if they are always available) are like the air they breathe. They rely on it but can't see it. When they are older they will know.

    Lovely post. Thanks from Kirsten at theguiltfreeguide.co.uk

    1. Thank you Kirsten! Yes, it's true, as children we can't appreciate the things we take as given and for granted. But hopefully one day they will know that what really mattered were exactly those things. :-) xx

  4. Lovely post and yes when you look back you can't really remember the material things can you its the little important things, laughter, love, warmth, and family time you remember x

    1. Definitely. I think the family time is also so important and making them feel like the centre of our world that they are. :-) x

  5. Gorgeous post hunny. I think about this all the time with my two children and hope they would answer the same way I would to my parents that I had an amazing childhood. I hope I have given them all they need and feel loved as they grow and guide them. Loving them and providing for them I think will bring a happy childhood. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  6. Thank you Jenny! Yes, love, guidance and providing for them are definitely the key ingredients. Thanks for taking the time to read! x

  7. Beautiful post...I feel the same way about my childhood. My mom always used to say: "Give your children values and wings" and that's certainly the way I was raised. Now I'm a mom myself I'm always hoping the choices I make for S are the right ones! x

  8. Aw, that's a beautiful mantra, definitely one to live by! x


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