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Why Your Kids Shouldn't be Happy

If you search the internet for "raising happy kids," you'll find more than 140 million results including websites, books, articles, psychological studies, blogs, etc. all telling you how to raise your kids to be happy. You can spend hours reading about the latest trends, advice columns or "Top 10" lists. While much of the advice is indeed sound—less screen time, more exercise, tell them no, eat better foods, help others—the focus is askew.  

"What's wrong with wanting happy kids?" you may ask. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting happy kids. But happiness should never be your focus, because it's an outcome. You cannot achieve happiness when happiness is your goal. Instead, if you adjust your focus to being holy—worshipping the Lord, prayer and reading the Bible, serving and blessing others—happiness then becomes a byproduct of those things. And not just a fleeting feeling that makes you smile, but true happiness.

I have friends who have said to me, "I just don't feel happy with my life." My response is (lovingly, of course), "Who cares?" Life isn't about happiness. It's about holiness. God desires a deep relationship with you. He doesn't merely want you happy. He wants your mind, will and emotions to be focused on Him—not the things that bring you "happiness." He wants your spirit to be One with His Spirit.

Let's think about it logically. What things make you happy? For me, it's margaritas, Mexican food, candy and the beach. If I could have those things all the time, I would be pretty happy. Wouldn't I? For a time, absolutely. But then I would be stuck dealing with the consequences of those choices: hungover, overweight, a tummy ache and possible diabetes. So you can see if I focus on the things that make me happy in the moment, they don't always end up being the best things for me. 

What kind of things makes a kid happy? Screen time, video games, sweets, little sleep and no school. Do we indulge our children in these things to make them happy in the moment? Or do we make tough decisions for our children that we know are the best for them? Even if they get angry, throw a fit or slam doors. Growing, learning and maturing are difficult, and it doesn't always make us happy. 

In the secular world, most people can recognize that things don't bring true happiness. The emphasis is usually on relationships—whether it's friendships, family, spouses, kids, etc. Being connected with others, quality time, and serving others definitely brings a sense of fulfillment that we don't get otherwise. However, if we make people or experiences the source of our happiness, what happens when the relationship breaks? What happens when they no longer make you happy? What happens when they inevitably die? What happens when a pandemic prevents you from being able to spend quality time with those whom you love? 

Again, I'm not saying that those things can't or won't make you happy. I love spending the day at the beach with my two girls. It makes me exceedingly happy. What I'm saying is my kids cannot be the source of my happiness, and my focus can't be happiness. My focus is on the Lord, and my He is my source of happiness and joy. 

As Christians, the goals we have for our kids shouldn't be that they are happy. I'm not saying that our kids should be miserable, but we have to make sure that we are teaching them biblical principles, and the Bible doesn't mention "happy" as one of the fruits of the spirit. Teach them love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Because raising happy kids isn't biblical—raising holy kids is. 


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