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What do you think makes a happy family?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 24, 2006

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Photo of Dee Clement

“When the parents love each other and they show that to their children, and love their children.”

Photo of Maurice Williams

“Love, forgiveness, communication, tolerance and a sense of humor.”

Photo of Greg Likes

“Peace and love, brother. That’s where it all starts. If everyone wakes up with the attitude of peace and love, you can’t lose. The family just flows.”

Photo of Molly Bullington

“Good communication and spending time together.”


Jayhawk226 12 years, 4 months ago

When I left for college outta-state.

J/K...I think.

I'm heading down to Austin for the KU @ Texas game, have a good weekend all!

Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

Peace and love begin at home. Throw in some cards, art, music,hiking, biking and board games.

ms_canada 12 years, 4 months ago

I think that Maurice Williams hit the nail on the head. And 3 out of the 4 included love, and that is good. But I think the inclusion of forgiveness in the formula makes all the difference. We, none of us, are perfect and when we make mistakes and cause a wound in the relationship, if there is no forgiveness, that wound will fester and grow. A wound can occur in any relationship within a family; mother/daughter, husband/wife or father/son. But if there is no love, I think there will be no forgiveness. My daily paper had a good article entitled, "Why do we teach bigotry to our children? Hatred and attitude fall into the category of learned behaviour. Forgiveness is also a learned behaviour.

enochville 12 years, 4 months ago

Here my Church's idea on what makes a family happy, and I whole heartedly agree:

A quote from there: "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

All the comments are great, but I like Dee's best. I agree that the parents' love for one another sets the stage for the family. Parents who enjoy being with one another, show affection toward one another, respect each other, and joke with one another are bound to have happy children, which makes for a happy family.

neopolss 12 years, 4 months ago

Locks on the bedroom doors are a great start. Consider shackles for maximum enjoyment.

beatrice 12 years, 4 months ago

Respect is the key. Treat your family members, espeially your spouse, with at least the same level of respect you give your friends. If a friend messes up or does something you don't like, you tend to think "you knucklehead," and then get over it pretty quickly. If your husband or wife does something you disagree with, however, too many people will yell and rant and such at each other. Not a good idea. Respect and communication make all the difference.

Topside 12 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

samsnewplace 12 years, 4 months ago

I would combine all the following answers to have the perfect answer: Dee, Maurice, Greg, Molly and Enochville. Maybe throw in family time together just being together, communication and love are vital between all family members. It is work, it is something you care about probably more than anything else and it is worth every second.

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 4 months ago

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, OOOWWW SING IT, ARETHA!!! Sock it to me sock it to me sock to me, just a little bit, BAY-bay. . . along with the love, peace, understanding, forgiveness, mirth and reverance of any kind. Christains don't have a monopoly on familial happiness, and we do pretty darn well in this Dietist/Wiccan household if I do say so myself.

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 4 months ago

Oh, and no news about the little bobino/ina. I am sure he and Bobarella are busy, but inquiring minds wanna know!!

avhjmlk 12 years, 4 months ago

SERIOUSLY! I want bobling news!!

Tomorrow's OTS question-- What kind of bobling do you thing TOB has produced, and what did TOB and Bobarella name said bobling?

canyon_wren 12 years, 4 months ago

All good comments, but I like Maurice's the best. I translate his word "tolerance" into letting each member be him/herself without trying to mold them into something.

I had a wonderful childhood in a great family, but if I were to pick out something that was missing, it would be more of an emphasis on kindness. It seems like we don't teach that sufficiently--or show it by example. I am always in awe of people who are really kind, and find that they are usually pretty happy people.

I also like what ms_canada said--that really covers it, as well. I know that people who grow up in a dysfunctional family, where few if any members are truly happy, often, in turn, raise that same kind of family, but I think it is possible for those people to consciously do it differently if they think about what their family lacked and others had.

I also agree that doing things together (especially sharing meals when possible) is an important ingredient for a happy family. I

It will be nice to read some of the posts from our particularly thoughtful contributors!

avhjmlk 12 years, 4 months ago

Really, in some ways, the best way to describe family happiness through love is the famous Gospel vers: "Love is patient, love is kind..." Even though some people consider it trite and overused at weddings, we had it read at ours, and one of our wedding gifts was a beautiful paper cutting of that verse. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I rehung that when we moved to our house nearly 2 years ago. Shame on me! (I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow afternoon---hanging framed things!)

sunflower_sue 12 years, 4 months ago

I'm going to comment on my "original" know, the one I grew up with. We had all the odds stacked against us. Single parent household, a child with a major disability, low income, yadda, yadda....but we were happy! What my Mom did right: Making sure we did plenty together as a family, making sure we forgave each other for all infractions (and there were many), we ate meals together, we prayed together, we laughed together, and above all else...every day she said "I love you" and was free with the hugs and kisses. She tucked us in every night. Now we are a grown family and still make it a top priority to get together and have a good time. We enjoy being around each other and no one is left out.
My "grown up" family: patience, forgiveness, communication, doing things together as a family, sticking up for each other, lots of hugs and kisses daily, tucking the kids into bed every night and singing to them (even though they are 9 and 11), and lots of love. Did I mention a sense of humor because this is maybe as important as anything else. Life comes with plenty to be unhappy about. If it's out of your control, try to laugh it off.

djazz 12 years, 4 months ago

A yellow or chocolate lab. Black lab as well.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 4 months ago

djazz, my sis has a black lab that is her "child." She brings much happiness to her life. Her name is also Jazz (short for Jasmine). That is, the dog's name, not my sister's... although it would be a cool name:o)

avhjmlk 12 years, 4 months ago

sunny--you hit it on the head with humor. If we didn't allow ourselves to laugh at the stupid, misguided, silly, laugh-out-loud funny, or otherwise crazy things we do, what would be the point?

sunflower_sue 12 years, 4 months ago

right now, what's making me laugh is this 2 year old sitting on my lap who is infatuated with his belly button. Then he keeps saying my name over and over and laying his head on my shoulder. He makes it hard to type, though! He's not mine, but he's part of my family.

coolmom 12 years, 4 months ago

seriously coming from a dysfunctional family we learned what not to do and stuff like humor, respect, kindness and patience were stuff that was missing and that our family stresses. we moved away from our family to give our kids a fighting chance.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 4 months ago

This question is boring. What is it, national family day or something?

Topside 12 years, 4 months ago

Azure Attitude-you do know she is singing about having sex right?

avhjmlk 12 years, 4 months ago

Ron--a KU professor put out a study about family happiness, or something like that. Go to the KU news page.

sunny, my nearly 2-year-old is fascinated with her navel, TOO! "button, button, button"

I keep trying to tell her that if she continues to pinch and pull on it, it's going to pop off one of these days. I'm getting the feeling that she doesn't believe me...

linux_chick 12 years, 4 months ago

I don't think happiness is most important. Happiness depends so heavily on environmental, or at the very least external circumstances.

That said, I do think doing our best to love each other is a great start to a successful family.

I_Bejewel 12 years, 4 months ago

I agree with all the love, respect, humor responses for happy families. In addition, I think the parent/child roles need to get back to the good ol' days where the parents were in charge and the kids obey. Too many self-important brats running around these day.

angelofmine 12 years, 4 months ago

Sun_Sue - What is it with the bellybutton?! My little four year old has a bellybutton fetish of sorts....she's obsessed. When she was just little bitty, at naptime or bedtime her jammies had to be unbuttoned so she could get to it! Now, still...she usually falls asleep with her hand over it. Little weirdo!

As for the question of the day.....I think patience plays a big part. The whole "in one ear and out the other" idea comes to mind as well! LOL But most is the binding agent.

ms_canada 12 years, 4 months ago

e_m - you clever fellow, where did you find Patches the wonder horse? That is priceless! Thanks for the web address. Indeed that does appear to be one happy family. :o)

Tony Kisner 12 years, 4 months ago

Topside - I think you are referring to what I called a bogart?

Linux - External sources? If you can't be responsible for your happiness who will be?

ms_canada 12 years, 4 months ago

TOB - many, many good wishes to you and your little family. I am so happy for you all. Please give our love and good wishes to your wife and give little guy a big kiss from all of us. We were all waiting non too patiently for the good news.

badger 12 years, 4 months ago

Hooray for TOB and his somewhat larger happy family!

I think one of the keys to a happy family is consistency, really. If my mom said, "You can't go to your friend's house Saturday afternoon until you clean your room," she would not look outside at the beautiful day and say, "OK, you can go 'just this once.' " She would, however, pitch in and help if I was really making an effort. If my parents said, "You can go to summer camp if you get all A's and B's," and I brought home all A's and B's, I went to summer camp. They didn't say, "Oh, wait, we were wrong, we didn't think you could get all A's and B's so we didn't set aside the money. You can't go," like a friend's parents did. On principle, they'd lose the money if I brought home a C after the deadline instead of saying, "Well, OK, we already paid for it, so go."

Bottom line was, if a solid statement came out of one of my parents' mouths with no qualifiers like 'maybe' or 'we'll try', I could call that truth and count on it. If they qualified it, I knew they'd try and that if something didn't happen, it was just the way life was.

They clearly communicated their expectations to me, and if I failed to meet the expectations, all I had to do was look my Dad in the eye and say I had done everything in my power to meet them. It's harder to lie to my Dad than you could ever possibly imagine. If, however, you told him you hadn't done all you could, and owned up to what you should have done differently, the punishment was mitigated.

A lot of families love each other, and really want to see one another happy. All the things mentioned here today are critical. But for me it was utterly key that I have a clear framework, things I could count on, and a certain degree of absolute truth.

(Yes, even about Santa. When I called them on the lie, they pointed out that they'd never explained the Santa myth based on the idea that he was a real person, or had us write letters or sit on the mall Santa's lap or talk about elves and the North Pole, and that 'Santa' was the name we give it when we want to be nice to someone else without using our name)

avhjmlk 12 years, 4 months ago

TOB! Welcome to parenthood, buddy!

angel and sunny--mine's a fall-asleep-with-her-finger-in-her-belly-button kiddo, too! I suppose that's better than other options...!

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 4 months ago

Topside, I do know. It was a double entendre. Respect and groovy love are both important in a marriage, in addition to the other aspects I descriped earlier, of course. Everybody needs good lovin'. If that stopped in your relationship, wouldn't you think something was wrong?

Coolmom, it's actually Xanax kinda like Xerox.

TOB!! Congrats on the Bobino! I wish you and Bobarella all the best for your family!!

jfgibson 12 years, 4 months ago

I am a single mother who has a very stressful in demand job. But, I am home by 5:45pm everynight to cook my son dinner. I am always there to help him with his homework and to enjoy our evening together. And I am always there to tuck him in at night. I work with so many people who are at the office until 8 or 9 pm and back into work at the crack of dawn the next day. It's important for those kind of people to remember what they are working for - To provide for your family. I think in today's fast paced racing up the corporate ladder world a lot of people get into the groove of working all the time. The family is what is important.

mztrendy 12 years, 4 months ago

Serious answer: Love, committment, laughter (lots of it) and respect.

beatrice 12 years, 4 months ago

not serious answer - living in separate states. It works wonders with the happiness among me and my siblings.

Congrats TOB! Don't think your having a child somehow gets you out of your duties around here, however. You are expected to keep up with the regular correspondance.

. . _/

linux_chick 12 years, 4 months ago

easy: I think there exist situations outside of our control that can impact our happiness. The way this question-of-the-day is worded assumes that family-life is the deciding factor of one's family being happy.

Some situations that can affect our perceptions of happiness: death in the family, dealing with issues of rape or suicide, illness, or even more drastic: situations like living through a holocaust , genocide or areas in the this country or others striken with poverty or starvation.

Some of these examples may not apply to you or me, but nonetheless would impact how happy I would be... it's a personal philosophy, I know, but I don't think whether a person (or family) is "happy" defines his (or its) success.

What do we do given the hand that's dealt to us? Trying to be happy is good, but I think we could do better...

Linda Endicott 12 years, 4 months ago

Happiness is really a state of mind. It's not material things that make you happy, though of course those can make life easier for you.

We were poor as dirt when I was a kid, and we had arguments, but I was happy as a lark. We spent a lot of time together. But some of my best memories were when we were all doing separate things...but we were all in the same room. Sometimes talking, sometimes not.

And having a sense of humor is key.

mztrendy 12 years, 4 months ago

not so serious comment... Sending our children to their other parents houses every other weekend....

Linda Aikins 12 years, 4 months ago

Outstanding work TOB!! We're so happy to hear about The_Baby_Bob. And yes, you cannot ignore us just because of that. We look forward to your posts at 1:00a, 2:00a, 3:00a, 4:00a, ...

avhjmlk 12 years, 4 months ago

5:00a, 6:00a, 7:00a, 8:00a...

Remember, if the baby is sleeping, you should be sleeping.

If you are sleeping, you should not be driving (learned that one the hard way--sideswiped someone on the hwy in KC when the little princess was 2 weeks old--no injuries, other than my pride and minimal remaining post-partum sanity!)

Linda Aikins 12 years, 4 months ago

At least she wasn't on your lap, avhjBritneySpearsmlk!

Topside 12 years, 4 months ago

Double entendre? We don't get paid by the syllable here. This is Kansas man! This isn't some MIT professors lounge.

BTW- TOB congrats to the newest sleepless person in town. Nick at nite channel has a great block of Cheers between about 2-5 in the morning. Gootsie is right, there is no excuse to not be the first poster. Although, I won't expect the same high level of posts as usual. Both the wife and I agreed that with the lack of sleep we definitely dropped a few IQ pts that we will never get back. Also, get ready to not remember anything so buy an organizer if you don't have one already.

enochville 12 years, 4 months ago

Congrats, TOB! I hope that you all are healthy and happy!

Liberty 12 years, 4 months ago

Putting God first in your life, then family then work. Also a sound money system that is not corrupted.

Our nation needs to get away from the Federal Reserve notes (dollar bill, which is not the same thing as the dollar). Go back to real money ("the dollar" which is made of .271 grains of silver coined in a US mint). This would limit government to live within their means. They could not inflate the money supply using it to increase their power over the world without limit like they are doing today.

A 'greenback' (like President Lincoln printed from the treasury, not the Federal Reserve note) would be useful to pay back the Federal Reserve our national debt. (Since the Federal Reserve created the debt out of thin air, the US government can create a 'greenback' out of thin air with no interest due to pay it back). You don't really think that the Federal Reserve started out with all that money to lend, did you?). The debt to the Federal Reserve is paid back to the owners of the Federal Reserve corporation. The owners are back in England and are bankers.

kcwarpony 12 years, 4 months ago

TOB, Congrats to you and your misses! The Creator has truly blessed you.

trinity 12 years, 4 months ago

yay, yet another bob! :)

congrats, bob

as for the question? what more can i add...oooo unless "table time" hasn't been said; my girls&i would spend countless hours around the ol' kitchen table just yakking...about anything&everything!

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 4 months ago

Top, are you suggesting that the manner of my discourse is in need of modificaton in order for the indigenous inhabitants to find it palatable? How absurd! The audacity! So much for Lawrence possessing the Harvard of the Midwest.

canyon_wren 12 years, 4 months ago

I've been gone all day and am just now checking out the good posts. I suppose most everyone has quit for the day. Trinity, you are right--table-time is a very important ingredient and one everyone can afford! Lots of good thoughts shared around our table. It was a good place to play games, too, which also makes for a happy family (most of the time!).

Crazyks--my family was probably more like yours--not much in the way of material things but we didn't give that much thought--we felt rich enough. And your comment about "all doing separate things...but we were all in the same room" describes a happy family for me, as well.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 4 months ago

Oh yes! Table time. I truly miss it. We have a nice huge tressle table that the hubby made. Perfect size but now that we have kids, we just can't do that anymore. Now, it's just for food and conversations, and all of our friends to gather around. (But I fondly remember the reckless days of yore!)

TOB, Sincere congrats! Hope momma and baby bob are doing well. Hope that nasty post-partum stays away! (Been there, done that.) Now be a good hubby and go get that crying baby for momma. That's your job. This makes for a very happy family! Like someone said earlier: "if momma ain't happy..." Seriously though, babies are the best! I'm very happy for you all.:O)

jfgibson, I salute you! You go girl!

bearded_gnome 12 years, 4 months ago

CONGRATS TOB on the arrival of micro-bob!
[whew, you better change that nappy!}

a while ago you blamed your wife for your viewing that reality show. was that reality show also the cause of micro-bob's conception?

answer the ots question: nerf bats.

missed a lot of ots this week, nothin' personal. just if I don't get to read some in the morning, and the posting count goes to 100-plus, I'm just lost. my buffer overflows.

finally Mrs. Gnome is almost healed of the broncho-krud! that's bad stuff, don't catch it. if you haven't yet, WASH YOUR HANDS EXTRA GOOD!
took me most of three weeks to kick.

Mrs. Gnome had a very fine lunch out with Ceallach and Sunflower-sue, and brought some home for my yummy lunch.
nice to meet Sunflower_sue in person!
she also got to meet gnomedog.

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