I read the headlines about the Children's Society "Good Childhood Report 2012" in the week, but only today have I had time to really look properly and reflect.
The finding which has really struck me is:
It is not the structure, but the relationships within a family that children care about. Loving relationships between a child and their family are ten times more powerful than family structure in increasing well-being.
Which leads me to ask "what is a loving relationship?"
I know what it's not.
It's not a relationship where there is bullying, abuse or power struggles. It's not a place of fear or torment. It's not full of screaming, violence and domination.
But I want to be clear that does not mean that there can't be arguments, worries and tears; every relationship has that. A child needs to see that there can be disagreements between loving adults and that these can be overcome. A child learns how to cope with upset by seeing others cope and coping together. A child can witness worry as long as they know it will not negatively effect them. Without seeing and living through these experiences in childhood it can be difficult to cope with them in adulthood.
So what is a loving relationship?
I'd say there are a few main traits:
- talking and hearing
- having fun together
- feeling secure with each other
It doesn't have to be roses and champagne, it doesn't have to be always perfect. What matters is that you communicate as a family, enjoy being together and reassure each other that no matter what happens the love will remain.
What do you think?
Do you agree?
The report is discussed and linked to at http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-views/press-release/good-childhood-report-2012-happiness-well-being