We Want Them to Be HappySep 08, 2022
In my initial session when mentoring homeschooling parents, I always “begin with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey says. I ask them what they want their children to be able to do, who they want them to be and what they want them to know. Almost every time, included in the response is: “We want them to be happy.”
I always have to giggle a little on the inside when I hear that. Because, what does that mean? I mean, I’m a mama too, and of course, I want the best for him. But is my goal for him to be happy all the time? Nope.
Why? Mostly because I know that success, or victory, lies on the other side of struggle. And struggle is where growth happens. It is where character is tested and shored up. It is where you have to stretch and get out of your comfort zone. That’s what makes the victory so sweet.
Happiness can be a lot of things. In today’s world, there is a lot of emphasis on “being happy.” I know I’m happy when I eat good food. I am usually happy after exercise and when I’m with my real friends. But that’s temporary happiness, isn’t it? It doesn’t last past the experience.
When I hear those parents say they want their kids to “be happy,” I know they don’t mean empty happiness, of course, but have they ever stopped to really think about what they are trying to say? The image of a kid sitting on the couch playing video games and eating potato chips pops in my mind. He’s happy, right?
What Does it Mean to Be Happy?
So then, what is true happiness? That’s what we really want for our kids. How about this:
“The only way to be happy, is to give happy.”Chris Brady
Chris Brady is a leadership expert, best-selling author, and a real example of this statement. In fact, he did a whole talk on this very subject. He talked about how true happiness is in the service of others. When you are in pursuit of your mission, your purpose, using your gifts and talents to make the world a better place, you can’t help but be happy. And that pursuit always includes serving others in some way.
I love this. That’s what homeschooling can be. It can be the place where we help our kids discover their individual talents and their unique purpose in the world. Then we can provide them with opportunities to strengthen those talents, or genius, as some like to call it, and use them toward their purpose.
Happy boy presenting the money he fundraised to the director of the International Bird Rescue.
My son is 13 now, but he has known since he was 3 that his purpose is to save animals, mostly wildlife. His plan is to build rescue centers and animal sanctuaries all over the world. He is a lucky one to know his purpose so early, but I can’t help think that part of that is what we did to dig into his love for animals. We went to the zoos, watched animal documentaries, went to wildlife rescue centers and talked to animal and nature people at Earth Day and Flyway festivals and every other opportunity we saw. He also did a project when he was 8 where he painted and sold birdhouses to raise funds for the local International Bird Rescue. By the time I had almost lost my mind with paint mess everyday, he had raised over $360! I recently watched the video of him presenting the check and certificate to the director in front of his friends and smiled at his sweet proud face. He still takes pride in his special relationship with the people at the Rescue.
How About You?
Take some time, really think about what happiness is and what looks like in your kids. Have discussions about it, dig in and write it down. That is your starting point.
Then you can use that to plan your homeschool and your example. Yeah, I said that. The most important part of this whole process is your example. Are you in pursuit of your mission? Are you using your talents to better the world? If you are in the dark about what that is for you and how it might look, you’re not alone. But start making a list of your interests and talents. Then think about how you can apply them to something that touches your heart. You don’t have to be a superstar, you just have to be in the process. Your kids will notice, and they will follow.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It’s the only thing.”Albert Schweitzer
You got this, you can do it. I believe in you.