People who are truly happy in parenthood usually display these behaviors

Elizabeth Gaskell, a leading English novelist from the Victorian era, sums up a guiding intention for parenting.

And it is done in a way that is beautiful and to the point. Truly, she was ahead of her time.

Gaskell said: “A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.”

What I believe the author meant by this is, that a savvy parent knows how to roll with their child’s need for independence.

They are not there to step in their way.

Parents who embrace this mindset are keen to be a voice of support and wisdom, rather than serving as an authoritarian or boss-like figure to their little human.

I find it’s a really beautiful way of setting up a future dynamic with your child that will serve you well.

Today, we’re going to explore the not-so-mysterious ways of happy parenting, from nurturing independence, Gaskell style, to carving out quirky family rituals.

1) They empower their children by fostering their independence and giving them age-appropriate responsibilities

Sometimes, you need to simply let your kid do their thing! Seriously, this can be the key to being a super happy parent.

The goal is to, as Gaskell implied, “become the friend and advisor.”

Whether it’s letting your child manage their pocket money (save or splurge!) or allowing them to bike over to their friend’s place (while you get the neighbors along the way to keep watch), letting your little ones spread their wings can be very satisfying to watch.

Plus it can be very fulfilling for your child. 

That little smile of success they show when they do something all on their own is the start of something major! It is independence in the making.

Happy parents deeply understand that nurturing independence is like giving children a trusty toolkit for life—they learn to tackle life’s challenges and demands, step by step.

Plus it all boils down to teaching responsibility too, beginning with packing toys away and moving up to caring for a dog or cat.

Of course, you want to try to guide their independence without letting go of the reins completely!

2) They strike a balance between work, personal interests, and family time

Ever come across those unicorn parents who seem to have it all figured out? 

I’m talking about the all-rounders in this life. The ones who juggle everything that life tosses at them

In this day and age, it can feel like a daunting, impossible task. We seem to have so many priorities competing for our attention.

But it’s worth trying to find a balance. Why? Because all the good stuff in life comes from finding the right mix.

It’s about holding work, personal stuff, and quality time with the family, in the appropriate measure that each deserves.

3) They carve out unique family rituals like game nights or themed dinners

I have a friend whose family has the zaniest Christmas traditions, and almost all of them revolve around dressing up and jumping in the pool.

And what a surprise—she happens to have the happiest, most loving family around! (Seriously, they belong in a Hallmark movie.)

In this way, unique family rituals are a simple yet powerful mark of happy parents.

Because it’s these kinds of people who transform life’s mundane moments into memories

They totally get that their responsibility is not just as a parent, teaching their kids how to live life, but their role is also as a maker of memories.

With this attitude and approach, a regular Friday night in becomes a buzzing game night around the dining table, or a boring Monday dinnertime brings everyone together with a Mexican fiesta of mix-and-match tacos and dad’s famous homemade pineapple salsa.

The joy is all in the togetherness—it’s the glue that bonds families together, creating memories that last the ages.

4) They have a sense of humor, knowing how to have fun and simply be silly

Children are like sponges—seriously, they soak up every little thing. 

Who among us has not let a curse word slip that they wish they could take back because their 6 year old is now marching around the block repeating it for everyone to hear?!

The same goes for our energy, too. Children are strangely perceptive of our many moods, spongeing them up without us realizing.

So, doesn’t it make sense we put out a bit of joy for them to soak up?

From dealing with a crying newborn to handling eternally moody teenagers, being a parent can be mighty tough. I get it.

I’m not saying we just casually gloss over these challenges, what I’m saying is that sometimes it comes down to finding joy in the inevitable, everyday ups and downs of parenting.

It’s about knowing how to laugh, have fun, and be delightfully silly.

These parents teach their kids that even in tough times, there’s plenty of room for laughter.

Plus a well-placed bit of silliness not only encourages this fun but triggers creativity and imagination—traits kids are built for.

Whether it is dressing up in funny outfits or making up wild bedtime stories, fun parents can help imagination thrive.

With this spirit, parenthood becomes not just a journey to endure but an adventure to savor with a smile.

5) They celebrate their children’s achievements, big and small

Eternally cheering on your kid’s successes, big or small, is one of the best ways to embrace joy as a parent.

If your little one just figured out how to cycle a bike, or to ice a cupcake, it might seem like a minor thing, but it’s a big deal for them. Huge.

So, you have got to celebrate it as if they just won the lottery. Seriously, go a little bananas here!

For these little wins make the big moments even sweeter.

Plus, celebrating isn’t just for them—it’s for you too. 

You want to be able to be present and revel in the success of your parenting wins.

After all, it isn’t easy being a parent, not at all! So you want to be able to take those wins where you can find them.

6) They bring mindfulness into their daily lives, teaching kids the importance of calm

Here’s a secret: all those breathing techniques, those chill music apps, and those yoga mantras aren’t just for grown-ups. Nuh uh.

Happy parents know how to raise happy kids, and sometimes, the process and demands of it all warrant a touch of mindfulness.

For real, it can be the key to creating a tranquil home and raising emotionally intelligent kids.

Mindful parents don’t just talk about being calm—they live it. 

Instead of reacting emotionally to every little issue, they stay calm, showing their kids how to process stress with grace.

Kids raised in a mindful home are more likely to grow into self-aware individuals

They learn how to handle life’s challenges because their parents taught them, more through actions than words, the power of keeping calm.

This can be as simple as tweaking bedtime. When it comes to this, a mindful version might mean it becomes more of a chill wind-down time. 

No arguments about book reading or tooth-brushing, but a moment for connection and sharing, a time to nurture their feelings.

Plus a mindful, happy parent is also a present parent. They’re not mentally somewhere else while playing with their kids.

They are right there, fully soaking in the moment. 

It goes back to what I said before about balance—they have essentially found the sweet spot where work, play, and rest can peacefully coexist.

7) They prioritize connecting with nature as a family, engaging in outdoor activities 

Who doesn’t love that feeling of fresh air and the feeling of sun dappling your skin through the leaves?

Whether you live on a farm, or in the heart of New York City, you can work to welcome more happiness into your life by helping your family connect with the great outdoors.

This is because nature acts as a built-in reset button for stressed-out, pent-up parents and kids.

When your dining resembles a rubbish tip, or the laundry is piling up in the hallway, the outdoors can magically calm things happening within the confines of your house.

Outdoor activities also help to keep everyone physically active and healthy—and that’s nothing to scoff at.

Final thoughts

What is it that defines a truly happy parent

For starters, a happy parent authentically cheers on their child’s achievements, big or small. Whether it’s acing an algebra test or writing their first postcard, they celebrate every win, where they can.

Laughter is another key part. A joyful parent finds humor in the chaos of parenting, turning mishaps into funny family tales to tell for years to come.

Nature becomes their happy place, a place to relax and bond. A walk in the city’s spaces or a day out at the beach is more than just an outing—it’s a space to connect with each other.

Creating special family rituals is another marker of joy. Whether it’s board game nights, fry-up Sundays, or annual camping trips, these rituals build strong family bonds.

Let’s not forget how a happy parent encourages their child’s independence. They believe strongly in giving kids the space to make decisions and take responsibility, nurturing confident and capable little ones.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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