Happiness

Wednesday 30 May

What do you want most for your child’s future? If you answered ‘happiness’, you are not alone. It would be hard to find a single parent who doesn’t want their child to be happy. But what makes a happy child? And is happiness a deep emotion, or just a surface-level feeling?

True and deep happiness can only be achieved by individuals who have learned to cope with the ups and downs of life. Growth in this area requires a big smack of reality and takes time.

We can make the mistake of trying to protect our children from anything that makes them unhappy. Protecting or rescuing children from struggle, from disappointment and from uncomfortable or sad situations might be a good strategy for a day or maybe a week of happiness, but the long-term effect is that we rob our children of the opportunity to build up the emotional resilience to cope with the inevitable challenges of life.  At the extreme, it’s well documented that this can lead to anxiety and depression – a far cry from happiness.

For our children to be truly happy, it’s essential that we let them experience highs as well as lows so they will grow in their ability to bounce-back as life’s challenges become greater in later years. It can be hard to see our precious children experience lows, but if we are focussed on our end game – that is, building strong, resilient and happy adults – we need to put our short-term solutions, as well as own feelings and our own need-to-help aside and, instead, journey through the lows with our children, encouraging them along the way, and reflecting and celebrating with them as they come out the other side.

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- Jane Mueller