Maryann Bucknum Brinley

167 Cooper Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-1810

973-202-5909 (cell)

The Secrets of Happy Parenting

More than 16 years ago, I wrote a book about the secrets of happy parenting. My children, Zach and Maggie, were still children then but the world was just as complicated for parents trying to be happy. In fact, I have researched and written a lot about pregnancy and parenting issues – once from the perch of the director of the Infants and Children’s Laboratory at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Zach is a father of two now. His son, Finn, is 2 ½ and my granddaughter Charlotte just turned 1. Now, Maggie is pregnant with her first, a daughter who will be born sometime around Dec. 4. I am deeply in love with this role of grandmother. So as I look back at parenting and my daughter Maggie looks forward, I have decided to launch a blog, retooling some of those secrets I shared way back when and, at times, examining parenting from two different generational points. Maggie, a wonderful writer as you will discover, is a nurse at New York University’s Langone Hospital.

Happy Parents Create a Cozy Atmosphere

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Monday, September 16, 2013

* Atmosphere in your home has absolutely nothing to do with interior decorating.

* Atmosphere has nothing to do with good housekeeping.

* Atmosphere is all about what it feels like in your home.

             You create the atmosphere in which your children grow – physically and emotionally. It doesn’t matter whether you work outside your home full-time, part-time or not at all. Mothers are usually the principal crafters of this home atmosphere. Fathers certainly contribute and nowadays there are more and more fathers who are manning this home front which I love. But more often than not, it is the mother who creates the emotional climate of a home. And this atmosphere is probably the most important single contribution to your child’s ultimate happiness and/or success.

            So, what’s it like in your house? Is your home emotionally comfortable? Do you breathe a sigh of relief or desperation when you are there? Envision a time of day to answer this question. Is it a madhouse early morning or at breakfast? What about dinner, bath or going-to-bed time? If you hate being there in your home, chances are your children do too. And a good climate is essential to growing kids.

            Whether Conditions (I haven’t misspelled weather. I really mean whether here.)

Check your atmospheric conditions. A pleasant atmosphere depends upon…

  • Whether or not you are in good shape. Overtired? Overcommitted? Are you the center of calm or a storm filled with stress?
  • Whether or not mealtimes are “hurry up and eat” or relaxing family gatherings.
  • Whether or not you even have a dinner hour in your house.
  • Whether or not your chores come before your children.
  • Whether or not you have time to touch, stroke, admire, inspire or motivate instead of barely enough time to organize, feed, clothe, bathe, instruct and discipline. Take that time from something else. It’s important.
  • Whether or not stress is permeating the atmosphere.
  • Whether or not you are enjoying life or just struggling to get through, get finished, and get done. That to-do list will never be completed so don’t try so hard. It is never-ending.
  • Whether or not your tone of voice is encouraging, commanding or condemning.
  • Whether or not you have a sense of humor. Silly time is time well spent.


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