Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
by Christine Carter, Ph.D.
2011, Ballantine Books
Christine Carter, the executive director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, provides a blueprint for raising happier children and becoming happier yourself in the process. She distills research in the fields of psychology, sociology, and neuroscience into practical, actionable advice.
If you’re a parent who wants to develop some self-care practices for yourself and your children, this book might give you some ideas. There are a lot of suggestions about making your life easier, specifically not freaking yourself out so much about parenting. This idea that if you’re having a good time and taking care of yourself, that will show in how you relate to your children and how they interact with the world.
Carter is a working mom, and she repeatedly (both explicitly and through the story she tells) expresses that she is no holy grail of perfect parenting. So despite the fact that she has a wealth of knowledge and experience, the book never feels preachy. You get the feeling that you’re talking to a very intelligent friend who’s offering you suggestions, not a Parenting Expert who’s shaming you for the way you do things.
Despite the scientific slant, there’s a lot of anecdotes. Some readers may appreciate these interludes while others may find them to be excessive. Also, as in any book referencing popular science, more research-minded readers may find some of her references dubious.
Full disclosure, I do not have kids. I bought this book after reading an interview with Fiona Apple where she talks about reverse engineering the parenting process to better care for herself. That seemed like an interesting idea, and this was the book she namedropped, so I bought it.
In the time since she wrote this book, Dr. Carter has begin talking and lecturing more about getting more out of life by doing less. She explores this hypothesis in her lecture, Full Plate, Empty Life.