Children and happiness

Children and happiness

Will neuroscience discover what makes our kids happy, or would playing on a swing set do more than any laboratory discovery?

New York Times family columnist Judith Warner revealed she is exploring the “exciting new field of developmental neuroscience,” where “the best and the brightest” may be headed for careers now that Wall Street has collapsed.

Will that world, in which highly motivated and intelligent parents like Warner labor intensely to master phrases like ‘single nucleotide polymorphism,” be a happier one for our children? Or would they do better simply going out and exploring the world on their own or with other children?

At the same time as the Warner column, New York old timer, author, and journalist Pete Hamill appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and spoke of driving through middle-class neighborhoods in Brooklyn: “There are no kids on the street, getting into fist fights, falling in love with the wrong people. They’re all inside, typing on keyboards, leading virtual lives. I hope they appreciate how privileged they are.”

Immediately on his saying that, the show’s two hosts Mika Brezinski and Joe Scarborough looked stricken with recognition, as they quickly recapitulated in their minds how their own lives differed from their children’s. Their childhood worlds – in which they rode bikes in their neighborhoods, walked with friends to the movies or community swimming pools on Saturdays, organized their own games with balls and jacks – has disappeared. They now subsidize and support their children’s veal-like existences, where they are bred, and fed, and cultivated to produce the best possible outcomes – kids capable of going to elite schools and getting the few slots in society allotted to the “best and brightest.”

Will those children be – are they – happier? We know they are more medicated for their various conditions – bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD. Does this make them happier?

Neuroscience, positive psychology, children and happiness…click here to read more