The Happiness Connection  

It's OK for your kids to suffer

Several years ago, a friend told me that parents are never happier than their unhappiest child.

In my experience, this is true.

I was reminded of this fact recently, when I discovered that my daughter was going through something that caused her state of well-being to plummet.

I carried a heaviness in the pit of my stomach for the first 24 hours. I didn’t sleep well, and I felt that the shine had been rubbed off my life.

How do we boost our sense of well being when our children, other close friend, or family member is suffering?

When faced with a dip in happiness because you are taking on someone else’s situation, it is important to remind yourself of a few happiness principles.

  • Their journey isn’t your journey; you are an observer rather than a participant. You can give advice, and a different point of view, but what happens is solely up to the other person. I think this is one of the biggest reasons we are affected so strongly when people we love are suffering.
  • Feeling helpless isn’t a comfortable emotion for any of us, especially if we are the proactive type. You can encourage, push, bribe, or entice as much as you like, but you can’t make action happen unless the other person decides to co-operate with your plan.
  • Put the situation into perspective. You aren’t living this challenge, you are watching someone else live it.
  • Think about your own journey through life, and some of the difficult times you have experienced. When you came out of them, what did you learn? Perhaps you discovered that you were stronger than you thought, or ending one relationship led to a new and much better one.
  • Be confident in the knowledge that although your loved one is suffering now, they are being given an opportunity to learn more about themselves and the world around them. This type of personal growth can be horrible to experience, but when you come out the other side, there is always a gift in the situation if you look for it.

Whenever you are faced with a challenging, or downright disastrous life experience, rest assured that you will come out the other side stronger, and wiser.

I take comfort from the phrase, "Sometimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place."

Robustly happy people understanding that life is an undulating path, and that looking for a learning opportunity is a matter of choice.

These are the two things I leaned into when I felt myself so affected by the sadness of my child.

I trusted that she would:

  • find her way through the negative experience
  • understood that she needed to be challenged if she was going to continue to grow as a person.

Growing pains are called that for a reason.

The No. 1 thing most parents want for their children is for them to be happy. Although it is never easy to see your children suffering, it offers them an opportunity to learn more about themselves.

As the observer, you are also being given an opportunity to learn more about yourself.

I’m learning how to trust that the young adults I raised have the skills they need to travel their path without me holding their hands. I also believe that these horrible experiences will leave them stronger, and wiser.

I am being reminded that I can’t control my children’s lives. They are on their own journeys, and I need to honour that. My role is to listen, console, and pass the Kleenex.

Lastly, I am learning to give advice without any emotional attachment to the outcome. There is no guarantee that the action I think they should take, is in fact the right action for them. They need to make that decision for themselves, and then take responsibility for the outcome.

I’m not going to lie; as I saw my baby put all her happiness skills, and strategies to work to learn from her situation and find a way to move forward, I felt incredibly proud of her.

She doesn’t need me to navigate her path, she is perfectly capable of doing that for herself, and that makes me happy.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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