It is NOT my job to make my kids happy. It IS my job to do what is best for them. Sometimes these two align, but sometimes they don’t.
I am not a child psychology expert and my degree is not in early childhood development, but I have been a student of parents raising kids for over 35 years and I feel confident in my conclusion that my job is not to make my kids happy, but to do what is in their best interest.
As a child, I lived on the other side of this principle. I didn’t always get my way, but I always knew that my parents loved me and were doing what they saw was best for me. My parents provided love, nurturing and discipline. When there was discipline involved, I always knew the reason for it and it was always done out of love and not anger. My husband was raised this same way and we continue to look to our parents for advice and encouragement as we raise our children.
As a young wife, before having children, I carefully watched my friends who had kids and noted things they were doing that worked and what was not working. I will always remember one sweet friend excusing herself from lunch to take care of her two year old son who was disobeying her. When she came back to the table, she apologized to me for the interruption, but said, “I have to be the one who wins.”
When I was expecting my first child, I did not read every parenting book I could get my hands on, but I did consult with ladies who I respected and who I had seen successfully raise their own children.
As a mother, I have made it through the stages of infancy, toddlers, little kids and now I have two who are “tweens”. Each stage comes with its own unique challenges and I know that the teen years will have even more new challenges, but I plan to keep trying my best to apply this underlying principle to raising my children. It is my job to do what is best for my children, whether they are happy about it or not.
Kids have to learn that life is not always happy; messes are made, sometimes there are bad grades, games are lost, friends move away, trust can be broken and loved ones pass away. We must teach our children to have joy in all circumstances, even when times are not happy. By trying to always keep kids happy, parents are doing them a great disservice and missing opportunities to teach valuable life lessons.
My kids are generally happy and genuinely joyful and I count this as a success.