Sunday, June 10, 2018



I have struggled with this for a few years now, not in the sense of not personally feeling the emotion, I am happy the vast majority of the time.  But our culture views it as the key goal in life, which on one hand I agree with, and on the other a protestant austere anglo element feels like we should have more worthwhile goals.

I was reading a book the other day that said, “you can only be as happy as your saddest child.” and while there is truth in that we also need to not depend on others for our happiness, and as parents we have to try, at some level, to separate our emotions from our children’s.  It doesn’t serve them to do otherwise.  Which is not to say that you are never enraged by the poor treatment of your child by others - I look at my youngest child’s school right now which makes me so angry I cannot even write about it - but it cannot define your own level of enjoyment.

And then there is the question, what do we want for our children.  We tend to say that we want them to be happy, and of course we all do.  I think though, that I need to recognize and they need to do so as well (not my children specifically, but children in general) that when we say this a component of this happiness, indeed the necessary base for it is that they have a basic sense of competence in themselves, which leads to adequate levels of self-confidence, they need to have the capacity to make and keep friends who are truly friends and who have their best interests in mind, who are able to make enough money in order to get and keep a job, hopefully one that is not soul destroying, so that they are not dependent on others for their survival.  All of these are precursors to happiness.  But I am not sure that all kids growing up hear this when we say we want them to be happy.  Sometimes that gets interpreted as simply being happy, taking the easiest and simplest route to happiness. 

But I believe that happiness, really long term happiness lies in confidence in ourselves, friends and hopefully family who love and care for you, and an ability to have a reasonable level of control over your life and the financial resources to provide for yourself.  From there it springs.  This is of course assuming that good mental health is in place, because even if you have all of these elements in place, mental health problems can and will undermine the entire edifice.  That said, there are few among us who would wish poor mental health on anyone else.

So yes, I want my kids to be happy, but it also means that sometimes we all have to do things that do not make us happy to get to the conditions that allow for long term happiness.  It’s a balance, but an important one. 

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