Thursday, April 18, 2013

If you're Happy and you know it- let it show!

My family shares my happiness!

I have heard it said many times “If Mom is happy, everyone is happy.”

Recently I considered a new idea: When the kids are happy, mom is happy and when mom is happy – well you know how the saying goes….

Books, experts, the not so expert, and society advise us that our job as a parent is to raise happy, well-adjusted children so that they will be productive, healthy participants in our world. That is in the "good parent" job description. We take it seriously.  As a parent of young children I spent countless hours offering solutions; negotiating with teachers, friends and friends' parents; cleaning, packing and unpacking all to ensure that my children were happy. It wasn't so much that I wasted my time as it was that I misdirected my energy.

It seems to be a rite of passage that every parent goes through: Realizing that they are not the source of their children’s happiness.  Another rite of passage in the stages of parenting is realizing that our happiness and value is not dependent on our children’s success, happiness, friends or lack of friends. We have a role in our children’s happiness. They, in turn, have a role in ours. It's understanding what happy is that is important.

I am honored to share the parenting journey with many families and, on the first Thursday of the month, we come together at the Parent Forum. This group, comprised mostly of moms and the occasional dad, is a plethora of inspiration, knowledge and support for each other.  Recently the subject of happiness came up at the Parent Forum.  Several insights were shared that day. One that really struck home for a lot of us is that happy looks different to each of us.

Because "happy" is an inside job, it is shaped by us, as an awareness on the inside. My happy looks very different from my son's. If I was determining his level of happiness on my happy scale, he would come up short and unhappy which according to some would mean I was failing as a parent. But he has his own meter and happiness looks different on him than it does on me. Before I can know his happy, I have to be open to it being different than mine. For him to know his happy, he has to know himself. This is one of the  greatest lessons we can give our children - to know themselves - including what makes them happy.

How do we raise happy children? We help them to know what happy means to them by modeling what it means to us.  And then we let them show it in their unique and perfect way. Do you know what your happy looks like? Do you show it?