Happiness is about joy, contentment and well-being; we know when we are happy, we know when we are not. It is therefore possible through asking a few simple questions to quantify how a particular demographic feels about itself. A Lingnan University study has determined that Hong Kong children aged between 8 and 17 were happier last year than in 2012, their positive emotions increasing 0.32 on a scale of 10 to 7.23. But that seemingly good result does not mean all is well with our sons and daughters. Although the study of 1,119 children showed two of the four determinants for happiness - love and engagement - remained strong, the others - fortitude and insight - weakened. Researchers found the drop in fortitude, from 7.10 to 6.64, particularly worrying. They believe affected children may find it difficult to deal with unexpected situations. Several child suicides last year were pointed to by lead research Professor Ho Lok-sang as a consequence of an inability to cope with stress. Close family ties are an integral part of a child's happiness. Research suggests that greater parental involvement in child-rearing leads to children who are healthier, less likely to have behavioural issues and perform better at school. The closer mothers and fathers are to their offspring the better the connections; emotional changes will more likely be quickly noticed. That gives ample opportunity to deal with pressure before it is too late. Parents in Hong Kong do not always have that opportunity; long working hours and family-unfriendly employment conditions create limited time to help children with life and relationship challenges, homework and stress. A job that allows little time for family - a government report on working hours in 2012 found that one in 10 employees worked more than 60 hours a week - are likely to cause problems. Balancing work and family obligations requires employer understanding and government policies. Mothers and fathers have to share responsibilities. Our children's happiness depends on it.