Your happiness is not directly proportional to your child’s happiness
If you want to live fully alive, then realise that your happiness is not dependent on your child’s state of joy. You are responsible for your own sense of well-being while parenting with intentional love.
Does your state of happiness seem to fluctuate based on how your children come home from school? If they are happy, do you find that your joy level soars? What about when they struggle with depression or peer relationships? It’s not always easy to separate our emotional well-being from our children, but it’s oh so necessary.
Every single person has to answer four questions during their lifetime:
Who am I?
Who is God?
Who are my people?
What is my purpose?
Now, these are deep questions that require consideration but I think that many parents, particularly mothers, get stuck on the final question. What is my purpose? This blog post, although written from a mom’s perspective, could apply to many dads as well.
Purpose and happiness confusion
It is easy to confuse your purpose with your child’s degree of happiness. When I speak of happiness, I mean a sense of well-being, joy, or contentment. If your son or daughter is content or full of joy, you can quickly feel the same. But, what if your child is struggling or hurting? How is your sense of joy affected by their state of being?
Your job as a parent is not to make your children happy, and your happiness is not directly proportional to their happiness.
One of your roles is to draw out their specific and unique gifts or talents. Repeat after me: “I am not here for the sole purpose of making my children happy.”
A controversial feature of modern parenting is ‘child-centrism,’ the tendency for parents to prioritise their children’s well-being above their own. Whilst parenting involves sacrifice, it doesn’t require you to sacrifice your joy. Your children will thrive as you thrive. I come to realise that many times I have tried to make them happy, thinking that we will all be happier. It’s not true.
Their happiness level is not a yardstick of your parenting ability. Your purpose in life is to be fully you – bringing glory to God. When your children grow up and fulfil their God-given destiny, then they will walk in greater degrees of joy.
Boundaries can guide parents
Just recently, I spoke on the radio about boundaries. Boundaries define what is me and what is not me. I am separate from my son and daughter. This doesn’t mean that I distance myself or disconnect from them. Instead, I realise that I am not responsible for my children’s feelings. My happiness is not conditional on their happiness.
Every single child is alive because it is their time to shape generations to come. Their lives are one of purpose, and we have the privilege to help shape how they develop as they mature. As a parent, I am here to help them discover who God is for themselves and for them to be who they were made to be.
My job is not to make my children happy
I am responsible for being the very best mom to them that I can be. I am not responsible for them or even all of their choices. Should one of my children decide not to study and do poorly in their exams, they will bear the consequences of that choice. Let’s say they come home telling me of a fight they had with a friend. Again, it’s not my battle to own. I can talk, guide, counsel, and pray, but they have to choose to be a friend and learn to resolve conflict. When I establish healthy boundaries around the way I parent, I teach my children responsibility and self-control.
My job is not to make my children happy. I am here to love and shepherd them, choosing to empower and train them in their unique bent and direction. And then, I have to let go. And I have to trust. My joy level is not directly proportional to their joy level.
Top tips to encourage you today if you find that your happiness fluctuates based on your child’s emotions:
Do you know who you are? Discover who you are, the things that bring you joy, your gifts, and talents. Then, live fully alive.
Give your children back to God. He loves them even more than you do. Ask God to give you wisdom and insight into their personality, love languages, gifts and talents.
Look at how you are parenting at the moment. Are you hovering, too involved or not involved enough?
Do you need to realise for yourself that your happiness is not dependent on your child’s success or happiness? What can you do so that this truth becomes a deep understanding?
How can you love yourself and your children in a way that is releasing and empowering?
Parenting is an intentional journey towards raising adults. But don’t forget that you are you! “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! “Dr Seuss.