As parents we all want our kids to be happy, if for no other reason than because we prefer to be happy ourselves! If we genuinely sense their happiness, then we, in-turn, feel happy. Perhaps in some way it gives us, as parents, a sense of pride and accomplishment. My mother, God rest her soul, said to me once “Renee, you’re only as happy as your saddest child.” At the time, it seemed like a strange statement, but now that I’m a parent I realize there is truth in that statement.
Having said that, I think it’s important for us as parents to realize that making our children happy is really not our job. What we should strive for as parents is preparing our kids to create the kind of good lives on their own that will give them joy and contentment in their future. So in other words, happiness is a by-product of what we really want for our kids. If we give our children opportunities to be independent, and we breed self-reliant, gritty and determined little humans, this assists our kids in feeling self-confidence and therefore, inner-happiness. I mean, nobody can really make someone else happy, unless that person is happy within themself, right?
There are certainly things we can do to bring our kids joy, but they should be small, thoughtful gestures that contribute towards them feeling important and good about themselves… not lavish birthday parties and excessive material items. Here are a few suggestions:
- Have your child’s favorite snack in the car when you pick them up from school.
- Allow each of your children to choose the dinner menu one night a week.
- Let your child order their own drink at Starbucks so that their name is on the cup!
These types of acts say “I love you; you’re important to me; your opinion matters.” Remember, it’s the small things in life that mean the most.
Tell us what small gestures you make that bring your kids joy. We can’t wait to hear from you.