What Makes a Happy Family?

When comedian Julian McCullough was starting high school, his mom left the family. Which is a big part of what prompted Julian to say to me, six months after my daughter was born, that he wasn’t used to being around happy families. Now that Julian has a family of his own, I called him up to hear more about life with his parents, and to talk about what makes a happy family in the first place.

Julian with his daughter Goldie

Julian with his daughter Goldie

More Julian McCullough


If you happen to be in Scotland now, you can still catch Julian’s stand-up show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He tells me it’s about the haphazard way he was raised, and how that informed his unsuccessful love life (until he met his wife Jane, above, of course).

If you miss that, Julian updates his tour schedule via Twitter at @julezmac.

And if you’d rather watch Julian from the comfort of your own home, here’s his Comedy Central special. This is one of my favorite clips.

Finally, if you want to hear the rest of Julian’s This American Life story that I excerpted in this episode, you can listen here:

Happiness Resources
If you’re seeking happiness, check out writer Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project and one of my favorite advice columnists, Ask Moxie, who focuses on parenting, relationships, and friendship.

What makes YOUR family happy?
Anything that’s surprised you? Tell us in the comments.

Top photo: Julian with his wife Jane and their daughter Goldie

6 thoughts on “EPISODE #37: What Makes a Happy Family?

  1. I loved this episode and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Just when I was thinking our family struggles are becoming too difficult and I am unhappy, it helped me feel not so alone.

  2. I really enjoyed this episode– particularly the point that a happy family isn’t one who has it easy, but one who is a team, who takes the blows together. I’ve been thinking about this often since I listened, and think it’s spot on. Thanks.

  3. Dear Mr. McCullough,

    Even though it may seem impossible at first, try to solely delight in your daughter’s deliriously happy response to reuniting with you. You are a working parent and people often travel for business. Good luck to you and your family with working out the scheduling and all its challenges.

    -S. Ann

Say Something

Commenting Guidelines Curiosity and spirited discussion are welcome; personal attacks are not. We reserve the right to reject comments for any reason.