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The Happiness List

Veronica Blanco Parenting

Last week I had one of those parenting moments were I just did not know were to run…

My 9 years old son had a big fight with his teenage sisters…yes, HE HAS SISTERS. Hard core I would say. Some years older than he is, they have psychological superiority in every argument. This is not easy for him, I can imagine… but he is a very, very sensitive boy that can not control his temper and end ups his fights the wrong way…almost always. This ends up getting him into trouble with mum and dad.

Well, last Sunday after lunch , I was so ready for my once a week Sunday nap and he comes into my room and tells me: “ Mum, I am tired of this family, I want to leave all of you… I really will leave! I don’t want to live my life anymore, I have a horrible life….” You can imagine how it followed.

Just the sound of the phrase: “ I don’t want to live anymore” gave me the chills, then my heart went directly to my throat and my face started burning with anger. Yes, anger. Anger he did not value the life he is living. Because if you look around for facts, people that live like we do represent only 2% of the population. I am not talking of the high-class, I am talking of middle to high class. Yes, only 2% of people around the world live like we do. Go to a nice school, live with their parents in a house of their own, are able to practice sports and other hobbies, receive xmas presents they wished for every year, travel, can go out for dinner once in a while…and the list continues.

Although I tried to make him understand this, he is a quite stubborn boy and would not change his mind. Ok, the 2% argument does not work with kids.

And then it came to me, when I had no resources around…LETS MAKE A LIST! And here is how it works: Two columns, one with the POSITIVE ASPECTS OF MY LIFE and one with the NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF MY LIFE. I asked him to start naming anything on his mind so that we could fill up this H O R R I B L E list. And here is the tricky part mums and dads…you need to let your child do the talking. It would not be his list if you do it for them. Your role in this story is to show them the other side of their life, the one they are not seeing. But first, let them start.

So his first point, of course, was: “my two older sisters don’t play with me”. I wrote it down, no questioning at this point, he needs to feel you are listening, not teaching. Calmly I asked him:” Does your little sister play with you?”. Bingo! “Yes she does, everytime I want to” . Ok, that was a positive point then.

And along the list went, for every negative point we wrote down I could manage 2-3 positive points related to it. The list went on and on and you know what the result was? POSITIVE 12 – NEGATIVE 3. A smile came out of his mouth and I knew this was one of those glorious moments as a mum…I did it! Wow…I did it without getting nervous, without patronising him, without raising my voice. I lost my Sunday nap…but I DID IT! We pinned the list over his desk “so that every time you feel your life is not good, this list will remind you that you actually have a great life”.


“THE HAPPINESS LIST”, as I secreatly call it, may come in handy even for myself once in a while.



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