When asked to review Maureen Healy’s Growing Happy Kids, I was intrigued by her “building block system” but more interested in her psychology-Buddhist fusion. As a Christian I was hesitant to hear how she would preach the religion of Buddhism (obviously when you believe something it naturally shows in your writing) but curious to see how her methods were conceived.
The book’s main premise is that inner confidence creates happiness. The main focus is creating “true” “inner” confidence, where Healy spends most of the book explaining the terms and meanings of the process she is trying to teach. She has five building blocks of confidence: Biology, Beliefs, Emotions, Social, and Spiritual. Each block builds on the previous and brings one to the ultimate goal of “true” “inner” confidence, which is where “true” happiness is.
I have to say, I believe Healy’s psychology is legit. It was refreshing to read that parents do have a heavy responsibility for their children. I also enjoyed her small tidbits of information about dealing with specific children, especially a sensitive child. Being a former sensitive child, married to a former one, and having at least one of my own right now, I agreed with all that she said on the matter. I know the parents of today often feel guilty for how they raise their children but feel as if they can do nothing to change that. Well they can, and Healy’s steps really do seem easy. She spends lots of time going over practical ways to implement the steps, and really focuses on the fact that adults might need these lifestyle changes just as much as children. She obviously sees children as whole people, and encourages that thinking (which is refreshing!).
Her Buddhist belief is where she lost me, though. I will give her the credit that she did try to incorporate other religions/beliefs into her stories, but most were in the same vein of thought (Buddhist, New Age, New Thought, etc.) and even with how vague Healy attempted to be, it still alienated those of a true Christian belief. There are many prayers, meditations, and exercises that go against what I truly believe or are worded in ways that I would not feel comfortable teaching them to my children . But if one person took her building blocks through their own religious filter and saw what practical knowledge there was to them, I can see how it could help. I just truly believe that you have to read this book with a grain of salt, because unless you are Buddhist I do not know if you will believe everything she is saying and follow it faithfully.
Maureen Healy also shares her personal struggle with feeling happy and confident throughout the book. She explains that “true” “inner” confidence and true happiness are life time goals that no one is just born with. They are things that are attainable with time and that someone has to learn. I am not sure I agree with this. Most of the things in the book that I do not agree with are based in a different thought of what is “true” happiness and “true” confidence, which ultimately go back to a difference in beliefs (religion). But her main focus is that of actual love for your child, which is what I whole-heartedly agree with. Of course, I believe that true love can only be attained by knowing how God truly loves us, and that is the base of where we differ.
At the end, my main thought through the book was one of sadness. Maureen Healy found herself flying across the world to meet with Buddhist monks to find happiness, and she believes she is learning it now (she is on her path to truly finding it). She left America to find some sort of truth, and it makes me wonder where her neighbors were. In a country where there are literally thousands of churches who believe the actual truth, she flew away to find something that is if anything a glimmer of real hope. What happened? Where were her neighbors showing her real love, God’s love? From her writings she seems passionate about helping children, and about finding something that is true and real. She is searching, and she believes she has found it. I have such compassion on her sweet spirit after reading her book. I know Buddhism will fail her, and I hope when it does she has a follower of Christ come into her life and show her what true love and joy is. If she ever reads this, I hope she knows she can contact me.
Growing Happy Kids by Maureen Healy goes on sale April 4, 2012. I was given a reader’s copy of the book to review.