A (borrowed) paragraph on raising happy kids:
“In our desperate quest to create happy kids, we may be assuming the wrong moral burden. It’s strikes me as a better goal, and dare I say a more virtuous one, to focus on making productive kids and moral kids and to simply hope that happiness will come to them by virtue of the good that they do and they’re accomplishments and the love that they feel from us. ”
— Jennifer Senior
My kids are getting ready to go to college. They’re mostly happy about it but I’m sure there are aspects they worry about and I think that’s healthy. Especially healthy to treat some of these college courses (Chemistry and Calculus come to mind) with a great deal of respect. This is not high school and they’ll be in a new world. And I think they’re ready (mostly).
- But are they happy?
- Should they be?
- Should I be?
- Is that the goal?
- Jennifer Senior suggests not and I’m inclined to agree with her.
In her TED talk, she says:
“Kids became, in the words of one brilliant, if totally ruthless sociologist, economically worthless but emotionally priceless.”
“Rather than them working for us, we began to work for them because within only a matter of decades, it became clear – if we wanted our kids to succeed, school is not enough. Extracurricular activities are a kid’s new work. That’s work for us, too, because we’re the ones driving them to soccer practice. Massive piles of homework are a kids new work. But that’s also work for us because we have to check it. About three years ago, a Texas woman told something to me that totally broke my heart. She said, almost casually, homework is the new dinner.”
As I near the end of life… of homework and carpools and the like, I have a chance to look back and wonder, “was it worth it?”
For the most part, I think yes. Sure, we made some mistakes… what parents don’t. We started some things too early and stayed in some things too long (in one notable case, we did BOTH… starting a year or two early and staying a year or two or three too long; there’s only so much you can position as “life lessons,” before even the kids know it’s bull).
I’m glad we sent them to a school that didn’t have homework, through the sixth grade. I’m glad they’ve always shown themselves to be good, kindhearted, genuine, honest, real people. The first few years they were just blobs of goo but the last few years, since they’ve been real people, I found that I really like them. We often choose to spend time with them instead of other people (and much to our surprise and delight, they choose the same with us). We go to concerts, talk walks, laugh together, and I think we’re happy when we do those things.
And I’m already sad contemplating the end of those days, but I’m excited about the coming new days.