I went to the soccer game from hell before I wrote this. I watched spoiled little princesses whine through their game and their mothers coddle them with promises of treats and prizes for playing "your very best". I listened as moms compared their super-busy-extra-important-schedules in the endless "I'm better than you are" Mommy Wars. I'm so over soccer and I'm so over the notion that our kids have to be happy-happy-happy all the time.
This popped up on Facebook yesterday and it's been bothering me ever since. I think we put too much emphasis on making our children happy and not nearly enough on making them functional. So forgive me, but I believe it's time for a rant...
Really? Your only wish is for your child to be happy? Because that's not mine. My wish is for my children to be responsible, resectable, respectful, intelligent, capable, independent, healthy, reasonable, creative, and fulfilled.
And you know how to help your kids achieve those adjectives? You parent them. You keep them off of sites like Ask.fm. You demand they follow rules - your rules, school rules, sport team rules, and the Golden Rule. You set the bar high. You give them opportunities to not be the best at everything. Failure is growth and growth is vital. You expect they respect their father and he expects they respect you. Of course, you have to start by respecting each other. You put your marriage first most of the time and present a united front.
You don't choose cigarettes over milk. You don't let them talk back. You don't let them interrupt adults. You set limits and never make empty threats. You treat them with kindness and compassion. Acknowledge they may have naughty moments, but you do not label them as brats or evil. You celebrate earned success and tell them to try harder next time when they don't get the prize.
So should you want your kids to be happy? Sure. Go for it. But make sure you're doing with with your eyes wide open. Kids aren't always going to be happy. That's part of growing up.