Happiness is Not the Goal

Proverbs 20:11: “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.”

The other day I was observing a little girl who had a pretty good pout going on.  She had just been denied something she wanted and was making it known that she wasn’t happy.  My first thought was, “What can I do to bring a smile back on that little girl’s face?” But, then, my more rational thought was, “No, the goal of effective parenting isn’t to make our kids happy, but instead to teach them characteristics and values that will serve them well into adulthood.

I was proud of that mother for denying her daughter something that she either didn’t need or shouldn’t have in the here and now in order to teach her a more valuable lesson for the future.

In fact, that mother taught her daughter two important lessons that day.  The first lesson was the real one she was trying to get across.  It might have been learning balance in life, maybe delayed gratification, maybe moderation – I’m not sure and that doesn’t matter.  The second lesson, and maybe the most important one, was that happiness is not the goal of parenting.

We didn’t become parents in order to make or keep our kids in a good mood at all times.  Real parents’ goals are bigger than our children’s happiness.  Effective parents want to make sure their children are equipped with the necessary skills in life to become productive adults.  That includes patience, finishing what they start, there aren’t always material rewards for jobs that need to be done, and life is not about how happy they are, but is always about doing their best.

Maybe this never happens in your household, but the next time one of your precious children starts in with a well-practiced pout, I hope you’ll remember that it’s not our jobs as parents to make them happy but it is our job to teach them right.  I know I’ll be trying to remember that the next time the drama begins here.

2 Replies to “Happiness is Not the Goal”

  1. Great post. I especially like the title. Happiness is not the goal – so true in parenting as well as in our own lives. I pray for wisdom and strength to make God-honouring decisions instead of what-would-make-me-happy-right-now decisions.

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