Every parent wants his or her children to be happy.We plan fun outings for them: to the park, to the beach, grand birthday parties and even trips to Disney Land. We love our children, shower them with hugs and kisses and bedtime stories. We do these kind (and often enjoyable) things for our children in hopes that they will simply become happy due to our efforts.
What if happiness was our primary goal as parents? What if all we succeed at doing is raising a happy child? Is happiness enough? Well, just look at the flip side: you raise the most accomplished, academically and physically gifted child in her/his high school graduating class. But your child is not a happy child. Your child is unhappy, depressed and anxious.
Any parent who has an unhappy child suddenly realizes that nothing else really matters. All you want is for your child to be happy, and then you can relax. Of course you want health for your child too. But health is often something we cannot control, and every parent would want his or her child to be happy during illness and not suffer through an illness in unhappiness.
What if your child is happy throughout his/her life despite not meeting your (or societies) prescribed success markers? Have you have done your job as a parent? Happiness is no small accomplishment, perhaps it is enough.
Happiness can be a frightening concept for parents. How does one teach a child to be happy? Especially when we, as parents, often feel stressed or unhappiness in our own daily lives.
Happiness starts with us. Being mindful in our own lives, as parents. Taking no moment on earth for granted. Learn how to stop, pause and breathe. Mindfulness takes practice. Daily practice for life. A practice of: stopping, enjoying the moment for what it is, simply one more glorious moment alive on the planet earth.
Soon, you will notice that life is like a turbulent ocean and you are the sailor aboard your own boat. The ocean never ceases to be turbulent; it may be calm for a day but suddenly a wind will come up and rock your boat again. The sailor is the key. An unpracticed sailor will be chaotic in his/her attempts to manage the boat and it will rock wildly with the ocean, eventually capsize, and the sailor may drown. A practiced sailor will guide the boat with the ocean, feeling the swells and sways but will remain mindful, and the boat will remain upright.
Once you learn to be mindful, share your wisdom with your child. This is how one learns to be happy. Happiness can be taught and practiced. If we are able to give our children the freedom to be who they want to be and the gift of learning how to be happy, we as parents have given an abundant gift.