Most times when I ask parents what their goals are for their children, they reply,”I just want them to be happy.”
Happiness is a fine goal, but the expectation is loaded and sets us all up for failure.
No human can be 100% happy, 100% of the time.
In fact, expecting our children to be 100% happy 100% of the time sets up an unhealthy expectation that leads to anxiety, depression, and dare I say, unhappiness.
Happy children are comfortable experiencing and expressing a range of emotions.
They have parents who can ride the waves of their child’s learning how to feel, express and cope with challenges and difficult thoughts and feelings.
Happy children know them are loved, even when they are unhappy, angry or sad.
Happy children don’t feel responsible to soothe their parents’ anxieties about their happiness or lack thereof.
Happy children are free to explore ideas and experiences that they are curious and passionate about. These explorations may lead them down paths we parents aren’t expecting or ready to manage ourselves. Happy children have parents who don’t hem them into too rigid “expected behavior.”
Happy children are free to wander in mind, spirit, and in body so they can test their wings, push their limits and safely see what is out beyond the protection of mom and dad. Overprotected, bubble wrapped children do not have a chance to be fully happy.
Happy children sometimes rebel. They push at the seams of their parents and loved one’s patience and protection. They rebel because they know they are safe in their age appropriate opposition.
Happy children are noisy, messy, move fast, say weird things, express silly thoughts and can sometimes appear to be careening around corners. They are edging towards out of control and can only figure out when they are in control by experiencing the difference.
Happy children are free from the pressure to perform for adults. In academics, sports, arts, relationships they can show up as they are, work to their best abilities and be accepted and seen as worthy no matter what the outcome.
Happy children spend time alone to sit with their feelings and learn to cope and self-soothe.
Happy children get bored and tinker with ways to keep themselves occupied.
Happy children make mistakes. They are learning by failing.
A happy child will fall and figure out how to get back up without adults doing all the work.
Happy children need a support team, not a manager.
Happy children have happy, good enough parents, who take care of themselves and trust their children will figure things out with support, guidance,love, and patience.