The Pursuit of Happiness
As parents we do our best to ensure the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being of our children. Simply said, we want healthy, happy kids. But who says they have to be happy all the time?
In the Declaration of Independence, certain rights are proclaimed to be God given and unalienable (can’t take em away). Happiness is the third and last of the specifically mentioned rights, but its mentioned with care. The Founding Fathers were well aware that while we can pursue happiness, we can’t guarantee it.
Early on it seems pretty simple – if the baby’s not crying- things are good. As we get older, however, it takes more and more to “keep us from crying”. Enter autonomy, stage left. We want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. We want to have stuff, and not just any stuff – we want the good stuff. Stir in emotional and social needs, then sprinkle liberally with ever increasing desires. Sounds like the perfect recipe for frustration and general discontent.
The more we have, the more we seem to want. The more options available, the more opportunities to miss out on what we think we need. Does this mean we should throw our hands up in frustration and just give up? No. We’re nothing without a good challenge.
Basic human needs for food, shelter and clothing are the obvious start. Next, heap on all the unconditional love you can beg, borrow, or steal. Then wrap it all up with respect and firm yet loving discipline. Now decorate with as much of your personal time and attention as you can possibly muster. Love them – and you teach them to love themselves. Respect them – and you teach them to respect themselves.
However, the next time little Bart or Lisa gets a long face because you tell them to put away the video games long enough to read a book… or the next time young Gregg and Marsha stomp off when you inform them that you won’t buy the latest made in Oppressivestan – lead tainted toy – from “Brats-R- Us”… don’t feel obliged to give in just to make them “happy”.