Parents always claim to worry about our children’s happiness – but is this really a concern? Or, do parents have to pretend that we actually care about our progeny’s pleasure while we push them to pursue what we think is best for them? What if my kids are happy getting B’s throughout school and opting out of college? Well, that won’t make me happy at all… but does that matter? As long as they’re happy, my angst at this hypothetical turn of events shouldn’t matter, right? Even if they are uneducated, underachieving slackers… as long as they’re happy… even though I will be miserable and never bring it up in conversation…
Why is my happiness so tied in with their choices? Is it because I am an involved parent who knows that good grades get kids into good schools, schools that grant degrees that open doors throughout life? Or is it that I am a narcissistic, privileged parent in search of trophy kids? Maybe it’s a little of both; I want my children to be happy according to my definition of it. Should I worry about that or just keep structuring their time toward what I believe will give them the most opportunities to pursue happiness in the long run? Won’t this plan make us both happy?
I worry about all of this—naturally—it’s what I do. I worry that my kids will grow into obnoxious, unappreciative, entitled jerks who I won’t like regardless of how they feel about me. I worry that life will be too hard for them—getting into a good school is harder, getting a good job is harder, finding a good mate is harder, life in general is harder than it was ‘back then’ (aka when I was young… in the dinosaur age). On the other hand, I worry that my children’s lives are too easy and that they won’t challenge themselves and exploit the benefits of all I’ve planned for them. And how am I to help them navigate a path between these conflicting frets?
I too want to be happy – or so I tell the aforementioned children when they ask – but what does “Happy Amy” look like? Well, quite often, she looks like me, here, in this chair challenged by a blank screen to examine and opine… and to plan my children’s schedule. Worrying all the while.