Happiness. We all desire to be happy, and the thing we want most for our children is for them to be happy. But should happiness really be our number one priority when it comes to raising them?
Today, I'll cover some important topics on raising happy children, and what it really means for them to be happy.
Should raising a happy child to be our number one priority?
We all know by now that life for our children won't always be easy, happy and go lucky. This world is a dark place, full of evil and unspeakable things that happen every day. So how can we give our children a balance of reality, as well as protect them from the not so pleasant aspects of life?
It's not wrong to seek happiness or to desire happiness for our kids. What makes it wrong is when we expect it to come our way, and when it doesn't, our world falls apart.
Here are some ways you can help your child have a balance of reality in pursuing happiness for their lives.
- Don't make everything easy for them.
- Don't do everything for them
- Don't give them whatever they want
- Show them the realities of poverty and hardship
- Teach them to fend for themselves and make money
- Don't put on a facade that everything in your life is perfect and happy
- Don't pretend that bad thing's don't happen in life
- Don't hide death or casualties from them when they reach an appropriate age
- Teach them to expect the best from people
- Let them know that feeling's of unhappiness is a part of life
- Let them be disappointed sometimes
It becomes a harsh reality for our children to go out into the world if everything at home was blissful and perfect for them. We can't protect them from everything, so when we can teach them the realities of this world in a safe environment that we can control, we will be setting them up for success.
What happens to our children if they think that they deserve to always be happy?
By not preparing them for disappointment in life, when they actually experience hard times, they won't know what to do with themselves.
How can we prepare them for the difficult realities of life?
The best thing you can do for your child is to teach them how to not always give in to how they feel. It's also important for them to know that when their circumstances get bad, it's how they react that will make or break them.
Teach them to make decisions for themselves.
There will always be consequences to their bad choices. The earlier they learn this, the better. The consequence of touching a hot stove is they'll be burned. The consequence of lying about what they did, will start to taint their heart. To give them an understanding and letting them experience consequences is VERY important for them in life.
Teach them to take responsibility for their actions
Children usually know when they have done something wrong, but they need direction in knowing what to do when they did something wrong. You want to make sure that them taking responsibility isn't done out of the desire to please you as a parent. It should come from the knowledge that taking responsibility in life for what they did wrong is the right thing to do. If you believe in God, it's most important for them to realize that God asks us to take responsibility for our actions, which takes the pressure off of them pleasing you, and makes it about pleasing God.
Why happiness is overrated
I believe that happiness is a fleeting feeling. Feelings come and go. If we teach our children that the number one thing they should seek in their life is happiness, we will not only set them up for a huge disappointment, we will set them up for failure.
So, what should be the most important thing we teach our children?
That life is unpredictable, and having a good attitude when things go wrong will be the surest way for them to experience JOY in their lives.
The difference between joy and happiness.
Happiness is a feeling you have when your circumstances are going well. Joy is a state of being you can choose to be in, even when your circumstances aren't good.
Teach them to have joy, even when their circumstances are bad, and maybe then they will learn that when life gets tough, they can always choose to have a good attitude. Feelings are so fleeting. Give them something to grasp and hold onto that won't leave them depressed when things don't go their way. It's having control over what they choose as opposed to reacting out of a feeling.
In a world where feelings of happiness are the most important, it's our job and duty as parents to set our kids up for success in the fact that this feeling of happiness won't always be your life, and that's okay. When they are raised to believe they need to be happy at all times, how will they know to get through the tough times in marriage? To overcome losing their job or getting fired? To handle someone breaking up with them? What it means to be strong and courageous in times of crisis?
All of these things hinge upon one disadvantage and why I believe so many people struggle with depression today. We are looking at life from a standpoint of "what can this world do for me?" instead of "what can I do in this world for others?" As well as "what does it mean to have a good attitude when things are hard?"