So today I saw one of those cute little cards you frequently see on Facebook. It read something like…”All I want in life is for my child to be happy. Like if you will always love your child.” At first look it seemed sweet, and i almost pushed “Like”. Then it dawned on me that nothing could be further from the truth. Sure I like to have fun with my kids, and I buy them birthday gifts that I know will make them happy. However, my kids’ happiness is not one of my top parental priorities.
Happiness is transitory and situational. I am much more concerned with my children developing the joy and inner peace that comes with a personal relationship with their Lord, and standing on their own two feet. The way I see it God has I entrusted me with three human beings. My priority as a parent is to teach them about Jesus, and to shape them into responsible productive adults. After all I am raising future adults, not just children. The goal of making kids happy may seem like the loving thing to do. However, it shapes selfish, immature, and overindulgent adults. It fails to teach important lessons such as the value of had work, practice, self improvement, delayed gratification, and fiscal responsibility. All of which bring a sense of accomplishment and life satisfaction that cannot be gained through being indulged constantly in the name of happiness..
As unfortunate as it is, most learning and character building opportunities arise from disappointment and failure. We have to allow our children to experience negative emotions. They cannot win all the time. They need to be told when they didn’t do their best. Don’t get me wrong. These moments should be seen as opportunities to instruct and learn, not to berate or punish. But, so many parents suffer from the “My Precious Darling Syndrome”. These parents believe their children are above the rules, and would never make a mistake. If their child does make a bad decision they either blame the other child or caregiver, or offer an excuse instead of a heartfelt apology. Furthermore they will fight their child experiencing any type of correction or loss of privileges. They are so concerned with self esteem that they over praise their child, and give them an over inflated idea of their capabilities. These are the kids that as adults do not know how to budget their money, expect to live the middle class lifestyle of their parents not realizing the hard work it took to get there. These are also the kids who are unemployed because they expect to have a management job because they have a “degree”, and are not willing to work their way up the way their parents did.
I am not the worlds greatest parent, and my kids have too many toys. I’ll be the first to say that it feels good to make my kids happy, and it is difficult to see them sad or disappointed. But, the next time I am tempted to make an excuse for my kid or blame the situation on the teacher/other kid I’m going to ask myself “is this what I am going to say to his or her boss someday?”. If the answer is no I should probably reevaluate my response.
I wrote this with no specific person or family in mind. It is nothing more than a commentary on what I perceive to be a shift in the parenting style here in America, and the adverse consequences it may have on our society as this generation becomes adults. If you don’t agree feel free to ignore. I won’t have my feelings hurt.