How to raise a successful, happy family – according to science.


The National Survey of Health & Development conducted a longitudinal study carried out on tens of thousands of people over 50 years. Their research reveals a profound truth… parenting matters.  How do you raise a successful, happy family? With good parenting skills.

But being a good parent is simpler than you think.  Basic but essential parenting can get lost in the craziness of modern life, but science shows that going back to the basics is actually the most effective way to raise a happy, successful family.

Here are 5 simple things you can do to raise a successful, happy family – backed by science.

, How to raise a successful, happy family

1.  To create a happy family, be happy yourself.

The first one may seem almost selfish, but setting an example of happiness is one of the most effective methods of creating happiness in your home and creating happiness in your children.

Studies show that happy parents are statistically more likely to have happy children. A person might assume that genetics are somehow involved, but the study couldn’t identify any genetic component. It was the modeled behavior and attitudes of the parents that made the difference.

On the flip side, research indicates a significant correlation between parental depression and behavioral problems in kids.

Daisaku Ikeda, a peace activist and Buddhist leader, asks parents to deeply reflect on their own behavior and become models for the behavior they want to see in their children.

How happy you are affects how happy and successful your kids are – dramatically.

, How to raise a successful, happy family

2. Talk to and listen to your kids.

Some people assume “quality time” means scheduling countless activities and structured “bonding experiences,” but science indicates that real quality time means quiet moments where you really listen to and respond to your child.

When you listen to what children have to say, they get the message, “You matter to me. I care about you and what you’re doing. You are important to me.” Communication is an essential part of building relationships.  

, How to raise a successful, happy family

3.  Have dinner together as a family.

This step is a natural follow up after #2 because more family talk occurs during mealtime than during any other activity.  Eating together as a family is not just about the food, it’s about creating and maintaining relationships. The importance of family dinner cannot be overlooked.  Turn off the TV and put down the phone and enjoy a meal together with your family.  Here’s a simple suggestion to encourage sharing and discussion, take turns sharing two good things about your day. 

When families regularly share meals together, everyone benefits. Making family dinner time a priority from an early age can make a world of difference in the health and wellbeing of a child. Regularly sharing meals together as a family promotes better mental and emotional health, better physical health, better developmental skills and enhanced brain development in children, better academic success,  better behavior, and better family relationships.

4.  Choose parenting techniques that “keep the end in mind”

As parents, we all want what’s best for our children, and parents do what they believe is in the best interests of the child, but not all parenting styles create similar results. Some parenting styles, while well intended, don’t offer good long term results.

Helicopter parenting may appear to be “good” parenting as you attempt to guarantee the child’s safety and success, but science suggests that supportive parenting is a far more effective method to rearing children to achieve academic success, high levels of happiness, and high salaries. Supportive parenting includes high or average levels of independence, high levels of trust and high levels of interest shown in the child with large amounts of time spent together.

If we want children to grow up to be capable, independent, trustworthy adults, then we need to give our children love and respect, show confidence in our children’s capabilities, teach them that they have control over their lives and provide guidance and then give them the freedom to make their own decisions.

5.  Teach responsibility and accountability. 

Teaching responsibility to children helps them to be successful in school and in life.  Three tools are very effective in teaching children to be responsible: communication, role modeling, and choice offering.

It’s very important to make intentions and expectations very clear with positive, easy to understand language.  What you say matters, but what you do matters even more.   Be aware that children are paying attention to all of your actions and interactions with others. As a parent, you are their most important role model 

To teach responsibility, it is important to offer children choices which gives a sense of control and influence over what is happening in a child’s life.  A good idea is to give multiple choice options where you’re genuinely okay with any of the options they might select.  

Accountability is the natural partner to responsibility. The ability of children to hold themselves accountable for their actions is a critical part of becoming independent.  Children often want to protect themselves from failure by blaming outside factors such as other people, bad luck or unfairness, but your child can’t take responsibility for her achievements and successes unless she is also willing to take responsibility for her mistakes and failures. 

happy family

An invitation to meet my family.

My family is not perfect, but we’re happy.  If you’d like to meet our family and see how we do things, you’re welcome to visit Two Good Things, the Bjork family blog.  Every family has a story, welcome to ours.