The Secret to Raising Awesome Kids Is Simpler Than We Think

Inspiring 4

familySo we have the superior French parents, and we have our Tiger moms, and soon we'll hear all about how Argentine, Tanzanian, and Eskimo parents have got parenting right and we've got it all wrong -- as usual. What's with all these books about how much better parenting is in other countries? Why do we keep comparing ourselves to everyone else?

And don't get me started on the endless mommy wars. Parenting in America is a battlefield, and we are one anxious, confused, conflicted bunch of parents. Are we making it harder than it needs to be? Here's a radical idea from Washington Post writer Brigid Schulte: "Perhaps instead of snapping up the latest foreign fad or obsessing over every international test score ranking, American parents would do well to look no further than a very American ideal: the pursuit of happiness."

After all, it's not even fair to compare ourselves with, say the French. They have high-quality, government-subsidized daycare. Not to mention, most countries (except ours and Swaziland) provide a year's paid maternity leave after each child. Compared with families in other countries, we're mostly parenting by ourselves (each nuclear family on its own), and we have HIGH expectations -- higher maybe even than parents with more of a safety net.

Which is where the pursuit of happiness comes in. Sociologist Christine Carter suggests we ditch the achievement parenting and focus on happiness -- and success will follow. Radical idea! Put happiness first, and that will feed success, instead of vice-versa! "When our children are happy, when their brains are filled with positive emotions like engagement, confidence and gratitude, we know from science that they are more likely to be successful and fulfill their potential."

So what would that look like? And do we have the courage to pursue real happiness?

This would mean we parents taking care of ourselves (trying to get sleep & a little exercise), forgetting about perfection, enjoying the moment, doing simple things together as a family, like having family dinner -- even if it's just some super-simple buttered pasta and steamed broccoli. At least, that sounds like happiness to me. I'm willing to take that leap of faith and try it out.

What does your family focus on more -- survival, achievement, or happiness?


Image via Kelsey Lovefusionphoto/Flickr



a mom's life, working moms, learning


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Alway... AlwaysExpecting

Sounds good to me :). I think as long as we teach our children manners, and how socialize in a productive and conscientious way, happiness automatically follows. 

Rushn311 Rushn311

I think my family worries about happiness first, then the rest. Personal achievement is right there though and survival is last except for like exercising/eating better. I meant like disasters happen and are beyond my control.

Eques... EquestrianMom

We focus on happiness and survival (and by that I mean getting our day to day stuff done). We focus on doing what we need to and enjoying it while we do, and once we are done, we take the time to have just us time, family games, etc. We see the opportunity to acheive hidden in what we normally do, candy land is a great game to practice colors, counting, Monopoly for counting and money, book time to learn to read, etc. And it's fun, and it makes us happy! 

 I don't personally care what my son decides to do in life. If he chooses to be a garbage man, that is peachy with me! I do care that he does the best he can at what he chooses, and that he is polite, kind and empathetic, strong, happy and helpful as he walks through life. For me personally, acheivement can mean different things to different people, and is not always measured in degrees and money earned. SOme of the people who have most touched my life had little most would measure as success. 

JDSmi... JDSmith625

I have had many conversations with my wife where in one breath we have the smartest 3yo ever and then in the next she is behind all of her friends in school. She has gotten so caught up in the cmpetiton between moms that i think it may be driving her crazy. As sorry as i feel for her, i still kinda laugh when i see her upset about it.

My wife did not do well at school and says that she believes that the other stuff school teaches you is just as important. I, on the other hand, did exceptionally well at school and also came to the same conclusion. I think my wife started using this as an excuse and then started to believe that it was just an excuse when she was actually right.

The fact is that the stuff that they are learning now, is really irrelevant. We all learn to talk, read and write. We all learn our colors. But i can bet that all the most successful or happy people you know dont  remember when they learned to tie their shoes.



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