If you ask any parent what they want most for their child, the most typical answer is 'to be happy'. Our society has become obsessed with happiness, selling the notion that we are not truly living unless we are happy. This need is no different when it comes to parenting.
This need to make our children happy tends to creates anxiety and stress in our children, which in turn actually does the opposite, making them 'unhappy'. When our children cry from falling over, aren't selected for the school soccer team, have a fight with a friend or so on, it triggers a hurt in us as the parents. In these moments we try and do everything we can to stop the hurt for them. This might mean calling the coach, calling our daughter's friend's parents or trying to stop them from crying by saying "you're okay, please don't cry".
When we ask our children to stop feeling their present feelings we are asking them to suppress their thoughts, needs and hurts deep inside of them. This often makes them feel unheard and that we are not willing to accept all of their emotions.
The truth is that when we get involved or stop our children from feeling that deep emotion of grief, sadness, resentment or whatever it is they are going through, we are essentially telling them that they cannot feel what it is they need to feel. Emotions are waves that will pass and when we allow sentiments to flow and be present within, we are telling our children we love them no matter how they are feeling. You are enough just as you are in this moment. It is just a feeling, you are not sadness itself, but just feeling this emotion now and it will change.
This acceptance of emotions supports our children to feel deeply heard, respected and supports them to understand that all feelings are acceptable. Your child does not need to be happy to make their parents happy.Your child is fully embraced, loved and cherished in their home, in each and every moment. This builds a truly beautiful, deep and authentic connection and attachment with your children.
There is always going to be pain and suffering in the world. We cannot protect our children from all experiences that may cause hurt, pain or trauma. And nor should we want to as some of the most immense growth can take place during this time. As long as we are supporting our children from a space of gentleness with love and holding, then they are able to truly move through the pain.
If we want our children to grow, to be resilient and strong, then we need to stop trying to make them 'happy' all the time. It is not our job as parents to provide happiness. Nor is it the role of the child to pretend to be happy all the time to please us. The is a beautiful opportunity to support and love them unconditionally and experience each moment, being fully present.
There are times when one of my girls have hurt themselves and are crying, I of course feel pain. Deep in my heart, I would trade places so that they didn't feel the hurt. When Kiana hurts herself, I hold her and let her cry and be with her in the pain of falling over.
When Mali is at the playground trying to play with someone else and they say no, I feel a sense of rejection for all the times I was excluded. But as I observe them in that moment, I notice the feeling is only there temporarily. I stand back and I do not try to control her feelings. I watch Mali move into imaginative play on her own, and that same girl then tries to play the game she's playing, with her.
When we take ourselves out of the equation, just providing the support and loving reassurance our children need in that moment, they become competent and capable individuals. These are the children I want to raise. Not children who are constantly chasing happiness....