Somewhere in the last few decades or so, our society has changed the definition of successful parenting. It seems as though if your kids aren’t happy, then you’re not doing a good job as a parent. I beg to differ…
This whole idea of making sure your kids are happy as much as possible, and that being the measuring stick used to determine whether or not you’re a good parent, is simply ridiculous. Worse than that, it’s detrimental to the future of your children’s personal lives and to the society they live in!
Kids are immature. And with immaturity comes unpleasant emotions when things don’t go the way they want them to. But learning some of life’s most important lessons, developing character, and maturing in general all require uncomfortable and unpleasant things to happen to us. And those things are much more important than feeling an emotion so fleeting as happiness.
Kids who’s parents are always trying to keep them happy develop an entitlement mentality which will only hurt them in the future. That mentality will lead to pride (the opposite of humility), disappointment (more unhappiness which is what their parent’s were trying to keep them from in the first place), jealousy, etc.
It’s not hard to prove this point. Just think of a kid you know who’s parents are very lenient with them, or who don’t enforce the rules they set in place. How do those children behave? I’m guessing not very good. And if you don’t happen to know any of these types of children, all you have to do is turn on reality TV to a show like Supernanny or Nanny 911 to see some of them in action. Now think about some of the teenagers or adults you know who were probably just like those little kids. Do you like those people? Do they have friends and others who look up to them? Are they doing well in life? I bet not!
Trying to make sure your kids are happy all of the time is detrimental to their future because they’ll grow up never having learned to overcome selfishness, blaming, sacrifice, or delayed gratification – all of which are extremely important in order to become happy, successful adults who live a life of excellence.
It is also important because they will grow up thinking that they should be happy all of the time. And that’s simply not true. There are always things that happen in your life that you can’t control and that aren’t part of your plan. And there are almost always roadblocks that are built up in the paths we travel along toward reaching our goals. Those things tend to make us unhappy. So they will never accomplish their goals in life because they’ll be too busy avoiding the things that make them unhappy. And the few times when they take a chance and pursue their goals anyway, they’ll quit as soon as a roadblock appears rather than finding a way over, under, around, or through it.
So I say, if your kids aren’t happy, that’s probably a good thing! It likely means that you’re doing your job as a parent. If you set rules for your children to follow and make them suffer appropriate consequences for breaking them, they will not be happy. But they will gain a healthy respect for authority, and learn the concepts fairness and justice.
If you give your kids an appropriate allowance and tell them they’re responsible for buying their own toys, getting presents for their friends for birthday parties, etc., they won’t be happy when they can’t get the cool new toy they just saw a commercial for, or go get embarrassed because they didn’t bring a present for their friend’s birthday party because they didn’t have enough money to get it since they foolishly spent it on candy or whatever else they wanted. But they will learn the importance of saving money, the consequences of impulse purchases, and understand the concepts of opportunity cost and delayed gratification once they do buy something they had to save money for, for the first time.
If you have your kids open the door for people at the mall for an hour on weekend, they won’t be happy about it – at first. But as people go by and some say “thank you” and others ignore them, they’ll learn why showing appreciation and courtesy is important, and how people who don’t display those traits are thought negatively. And if they get lucky and there’s someone who they open the door for happens to give them a couple dollars or expresses very generous gratitude and gives them compliments, they may even end up enjoying opening the door for people after a while which will reinforce the lesson even more!
Don’t strive to try to keep your kids happy all of the time. Do it when you can of course, because you love them. But don’t put the importance of their happiness over the importance of learning life lessons that will serve them well as adults. That’s one of the main keys to excellent parenting! Now, get out there and LEED your kids!