Should you always make your kids happy? Well, the answer is yes and no.

One day I caught my son watching TV when it was not permitted (only on weekends) and he looked up at me with those big puppy-dog eyes and said, "Don't you want me to be happy?" I smiled and said, "No!" He was shocked. I continued, "I want you to be productive, skilled, smart, helpful, wise, intelligent, righteous, hardworking and on and on. THAT's what I want you to be. If you feel happy occasionally, that's cool." I then reassured him that TV was dead last on the list and he could go work off his infraction to build character.

Don't fix everything!

I know it is rather counter-intuitive to parents. Kids need regular doses of happiness but they also need doses of being unhappy. And we need to look at those negative times and rejoice and not feel guilty. We can say to ourselves, "Yahoo! She's frustrated with that hard school project." "Yeah, he has a teacher with a different personality that clashes a bit." Just think of all the wonderful lessons he will learn adapting, coping, adjusting and so forth. We need to curb our instinct to run in and fix everything and smooth out all of life's wrinkles so they will have a perfect existence.

If we keep them perpetually happy and then they move out in the world, they will be ill-equipped to deal with the normal frustrations and trials that are part of adult living. At the first sign of difficulty, they'll run crying home to momma to make it all better.

Keep the end in mind

We need to keep the end in mind constantly to battle the guilty feelings and the stares of others. When your child comes to you complaining about sadness, you can fix it or you can empower her. Think of it - deliver this message, "Sweetheart, I know this is really hard but I have every confidence that you can handle it. I've seen you handle tough things before. You can do this!" And we stand back (with tongues sufficiently bitten back when they do things differently than we would and hands tied behind our backs to resist fixing it) and we ooze faith and confidence in them.

Let them learn happiness

Over time, our children learn to choose happiness on their own. And we will have been successful parents.

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