Friday, October 23, 2009

Why we shouldn't try to make our kids happy

A friend sent me this video clip which I thought was rather pertinent (thanks Slim!) It's by Connie Podesta, a marriage counsellor and it's food for thought. Do watch it (it's less than 5 minutes lah).

Her message is that while many adults comment that kids these days are different from 30 years ago, it's really the parents who are different. And a big reason for that is that we have become too pre-occupied with trying to make our kids happy.

Of course as parents, we want our kids to be happy. I think the problem arises when we mistake happiness as a goal instead of an end product. When this happens, parents start running circles around their kids trying to make them happy, as if that's their purpose in life. It’s exactly what those parents that I previously described as keys, try to do. As Connie mentions, once kids cotton on to that (and they will, very quickly!) boy, are you in trouble because you're letting yourself be held ransom to their every desire. Can you say brat?

Happiness is not a goal. It is a resultant state, helped by ideals such as living responsibly, having good values, having compassion for others, pursuing your passion etc. If we as parents provide a solid foundation for nurturing these qualities, then maybe, just maybe, our kids will be happy.


Lilian said...

I'm just gonna cut and paste my email reply to Slim and you, and add on a bit more:

She's right of course. But I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting our kids to be happy, just not now :) I always say my wish for my kids is that they have a happy life. That's for future. To get there, they've gotta practise things like be hardworking etc.

The bit about parents angsting over punishing their kids is so true....I definitely do that. I've even *gasped* apologised...when I realise I've gone overboard or have been unfair.

Parents have changed, but the change hasn't been all bad I think. In the past, our parents always had the last word, these days, we try to see things from our kids' points of view too, and I expect this will keep the lines of communication open and hopefully lead to a stronger, healthier and more trusting parent-child relationship.

And of course I'm talking about rational, sensible parents, not the keys you write about!

Anonymous said...

Wah you have touched on a topic that I can write comments about a book-size thick! LOL..

I agree children are pretty much the same when born other than physically having more nutrition than our days. They are still born with a need to be nurtured and shaped into who they will be. In the past, there was less resources to influence the nurturing compared to today's situation.

Parents are defintely different as we are now a generation more educated, more affluent, more goal-driven by worldly things and more complex. I am guilty of using the word "happy" loosely but parenting to me is similar to Connie's approach. Also, if anyone ever ask me what is the most difficult thing for me in my life so far, it's never about exams or about work, but always about parenting.

If I may go more granular, Connie's "happy" is refering to the immediate gratifications. But there is also a long term "happy" that parents get themselves twisted into.

So in the pursuit of so-called long term "happiness" for their children, I find that most modern parents are pursuing "it" for themselves, unfortunately. Many parents are pursing the long term "happy" dream for their children to realise dreams that they could not realise themselves.

I agree with Lilian that there is nothing wrong wanting happiness for our children in the future. And for long term happiness, we just need to be clear, whose happiness? Parents' or the children's? To me, as a goal, it should be the children's but as an outcome, by right, it should give both parties' happiness if parents' goal is to see the children happy.

As a parent, moderation is key but that is so difficult to achieve. The process of getting there should be more emphasized than re-iterating the goal itself, hence that is where the values come into play.

Trust, I agree, is earned.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...