As I've mentioned before, sometimes deep conversations spring up during the walks I take with my friends. Recently, this discussion came up and has had me thinking. In parenting, is our goal having happy children? I think any good parent wants her child to be happy. We don't want to see our children sad, hurting, or angry. Adorable smiles and laughs of joy are definitely preferable.
While that's the desire of most, I don't think that should be the goal. When I think of a happy kid, I think of a momentary emotion. Happy generally deals with the right now, especially with a toddler or young child. I just ate a cookie, I'm happy! I just played with my favorite baby doll, I'm very happy. I get to go to church and play with my friends, life is wonderful. You don't very often hear of a little person being happy because he helped a friend get through a life crisis or was able to spend 3 hours reading her favorite book of the Bible.
Similarly, when you're working on correcting your children and trying to help form them into the person God would have them to be (and what a daunting task that is), often you have to sacrifice momentary happiness for the good of their future. When Riley and I have to "discuss" (she's 2, discussions are very simple) an issue, sometimes it's evident that she's not exactly happy. She doesn't want to have to stop what she's doing and obey mommy. She doesn't want to eat her green beans or pick up her toys. Sometimes, due to the fact that I'm willing to sacrifice her temporary happiness, there is sadness and tears on Riley's part. Just like the happiness, though, these tears pass.
While I'm definitely not saying I've got it all right, a trend that seems to be going on in the world around us is sacrificing the long-term goals we should have for our kiddos for happiness right now. Parents are catering to their children's every want and wish because they feel that they score high on the good parent scale when their kids are happy. It's a little bit scary to ponder what these young people will be like as adults.
The Bible is definitely all about things that last. We're supposed to value the eternal. If we give in to every desire of our children and allow them to constantly be happy in the moment, will they be well-prepared to give their best for Jesus or will they stop when the first sign of trouble arises along the way?
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment,
worketh for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory.
2 Corinthians 4:17