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Bad Childhood

Blog: Stop Trying to Make Your Kids Happy

By Dr. Laura on June 3, 2024
Man touches young woman's face that is frowning

I know you want your child to be happy and live a good life. I'm constantly taking calls from parents concerned about their child's future success and happiness. But, what I usually end up pointing out is that their parenting is actually hurting their kids more than helping. Why? Because, in an effort to make life as smooth as possible for their children, parents unwittingly teach them that they're not capable of achieving without assistance. 
Listen to the call that inspired this blog:


From parents of little kids who deliver left-behind lunch boxes and forgotten homework to school, to parents of young adults who allow them to move back home instead of struggling to rent what they can afford, we're a society full of kids who are prevented from failing. The problem is, when you do for your children instead of letting them struggle and (perhaps) fail, they miss out on the chance to pick themselves up and try again. Your help is destroying their will and ambition and creativity. 


It's not what you do for your children, but what you've taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings. 


Success is built on frustration and failure. Think back on your own life, and you'll probably agree that this was true for you. With that in mind, you need to stop doing everything for your children. You think you're going to help them become more successful, but it doesn't work that way. That's actually the opposite of how it works. You should be helping your kids feel optimistic about making their own decisions. Be supportive when they mess up so they learn that failure is simply a part of success. Stop rescuing, and let them find out what they can do on their own. 


The time to help raise your children to become self-reliant adults starts long before they're old enough to move out and live on their own – like in the preschool years by having them help you set and clear the table. It continues with letting them deal with the consequences of forgotten homework, missed exams and such. And, when they're older, let them figure out how to live on their own. Maybe all they can afford to rent is a room in a house, but that's just the first step towards growing into the competent human being you are hoping for. Happy feelings come and go, so having happy kids cannot be the goal. Instead of trying to pave the way for your child, focus on raising a functional, decent and independent human. Those are qualities they can live proudly and happily with.


Now, go do the right thing!



When did you have to use "tough love" with your kids? How did it go for you and your family? Share your stories with me here!



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