Who doesn’t want the best for their kids? They dream of being professional athletes, firemen, police officers, or knights. All nobles pursuits, some less likely than others. We dream of them being doctors, lawyers, or some other well earning professional position. But how much does that matter in the long run?
Those are all noble pursuits, but what I REALLY want my son to be when he grows up is happy.
I know people in all of those professions that are miserable. They have a good job, make great money, have a nice house, family, but they aren’t happy. The work isn’t satisfying. They’re saddled with student loan debt. Their workload doesn’t leave time for family or they have to be gone on business three weeks out of the month. They pour everything into their work and have nothing left for hobbies or things that make them happy.
I read an article recently that says half of doctors surveyed would take less money for better work-life balance. Many new doctors are joining non-traditional practices that have lower salaries but fewer hours. “This year’s survey that focused on the problems of physician burnout and suicide…the problem continues to have an impact on physicians’ happiness, personal relationships and career satisfaction, the report said.”
OUR KIDS TODAY ARE TOO STRESSED
Kids are growing up too fast and we expect too much of them. I’ve heard parents of kindergarten and first-grade students talk about how much homework their child has. They play multiple sports and have packed schedules. Many school systems are cutting out recess time so there’s more time to teach what’s on standardized tests…which there is increasing pressure to do well on.
Social media is also causing issues. Bullying is more widespread and rampant and there’s an increasing need to keep up with what everyone is doing. When I was a kid in the ’80s, the only people I kept up with when I got home were the few kids that lived on my street.
More parents are divorced and kids are getting less sleep, both of which are causing chronic illnesses. Our children can also tell when WE are stressed and that affects them, too.
FOCUSING ON HAPPINESS
There’s a line that has to be walked, and I don’t know where it is. That’s one more thing that makes parenting tricky. I want my son to be happy, but that doesn’t mean I let him get away with things or do whatever he wants. He doesn’t get his iPad anytime he wants it, he has to do chores, and I’m not letting him eat ice cream for every meal.
One of the biggest things I focus on is spending time together. Feeling connected and valued is one of the greatest gifts I can give him. Two nights this week we got down on the floor and played “knights and dragons”. I can’t always stop what I’m doing to give him attention, but if I’m scrolling Instagram and he wants me to play a game, I try to accommodate more often than not.
As he grows I hope to instill a sense of wonder and discovery. I’ll encourage him to pursue his passions. I’ll stress that learning HOW to learn is more important than memorizing a bunch of useless information that will have no relevance later in life. Do I care if he can recite the Gettysburg Address? Heck no. But I do want him to learn HOW to memorize things.
I don’t want him to give up on something when it gets hard, but he’ll know it’s okay to walk away from something if he decides it’s not for him, so long as he’s fulfilled his commitments. He’s not quitting his soccer team in the middle of the season, but he doesn’t have to play the next year if he doesn’t like soccer anymore.
As long as he is happy, the rest is icing on the cake. I’d rather the pride he takes in his work define him than the job title on his resume.
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