The first tip is to realize the importance of modeling happiness. You can’t give something that you don’t have. How can you teach kids happiness if you don’t have it yourself? Some parents think loving their family means living only for them, driving them everywhere, cleaning up after them, and putting their kids’ needs and desires way ahead of their own. Parenting shouldn’t turn us into a short-order restaurant or a cleaning or taxi service. It does for some parents. That teaches kids a bad lesson.
A child who perceives his parent as a servant, someone whose life has meaning only through catering to his whims, learns to be selfish. He comes to believe others exist to do his bidding. I have a friend who was raised like that, and she tells me when she grew up, she kept having the strange feeling, “Where are all the servants?” Being catered to was such an ingrained part of her childhood that adjusting to adulthood was difficult for her, because “the servants” were missing.
Kids who are raised this way tend to feel the world owes them a living. So breaking out of the “doormat” mode, if you’re in one, is pretty central to giving your kid a chance at a smooth transition to happy adulthood.
When you take care of yourself, make time for yourself, and do things that make you happy, your child learns those behaviors from you. If she sees you going for your dreams and making decisions based on your inner truth, she learns that doing those things is good. On the other hand, if you model dropping everything to fulfill her latest dictate, she learns that parenting means self-denial and victimization. She may then become a self-effacing parent herself or go the other extreme and forego parenting entirely because it looks like such a sacrifice.
So to raise happy kids, be good to yourself. Treat yourself with respect and dignity the same as you treat your child. Don’t allow disrespect toward you any more than you’d allow someone to be rude to your kids. Make time for your creative desires and dreams. Plan in some scheduled personal time each week (or day), and make sure that you take it.
Winsome Coutts holds a teacher’s certificate in education and has written hundreds of articles on self-development. She has studied with Bob Proctor and John Demartini, popular teachers featured on “The Secret” DVD. For additional info that will have an immediate and positive impact on your relationship with your children, please visit