My ultimate goal as a parent is to have smart, respectful, and happy kids. I lost focus of that with my daughter when she started school. She is smart, respectful, but was not always happy. Instead of listening to her about how she feels, I always told her how to feel. Instead of focusing on everything that she’s done right, I focused on areas where she can improve. Instead of believing her, I cast doubt on her. Instead of admitting I can be wrong, I push my dumb ego on her. One day, my daughter said something to me that made me stop, think and listen. What I heard, changed how I parent from that point on. She said, while crying, “I just want you to hug me, I am lonely.” This sentence came from my 6 year old baby. Without getting into major details, she told me about how her friends make her unhappy, her current living conditions doesn’t make her happy (we’re living in a small room together because of renovations to our home), she misses grandma, and etc. I always chalked it up to, “that’s just how she is”, but when she used the word lonely, I saw my failure. I am lucky to have a daughter that knows how to use words to get her message across. Instead of giving her comfort, I added to her discomfort. I hugged her and asked her to tell me what to do. She said, “I am tired of not making you mad, tell me how to make you happy.” I thought to myself… I taught her that, she only knew how to not be mad, but doesn’t know how to be happy. I reassured her that I am very happy with her and things will change. I learned to use more positive words around her. I am slowly seeing my daughter’s child side shine through again. I learned a tough lesson. Your child can only be lonely, if you abandon their feelings too.
I learned something major in parenting and wanted to share it. I don’t know all the answers or whether I’m going about this the right way. I am just a student like everyone else. I just want to share my experience in hopes we all achieve our ultimate goal. Our children’s happiness.
What’s the point of having the smartest or most successful children, when they aren’t happy. We all heard it, money and material items doesn’t bring true happiness. Yet we push these things on our kids, without a second thought of how they’re feeling. Success should be a result of their hard work, but not the sole reason for their happiness.
I am not saying I don’t want my kids to be smart and successful. As a parent, I will make sure every door of opportunity is open to them, but it is also important to understand that they should be happy with whatever path they choose. If we raise our children with a positive and happy attitude, they will be happy regardless of the outcome.
We can’t control our children’s friends, enemies, teachers, relatives, or any other third party influences. What we can control is ourselves. Be the example for them by learning to love what you do and being happy with what you have. Don’t add sadness and anger to our children’s world. Balance our children’s chaotic lives with understanding, acceptance, happiness, reassurance, and all sorts of positiveness.
The hardest thing to face is our children’s sadness and anger. It’s hard to believe that the world around them makes them feel that way. When we deny their feelings, we are only a part of the problem. We need to swallow our pride, push down that ego, and listen to them. Stop telling them how to feel, and hearing how they really feel.
Every parent believes their child to be the smartest, but always fail to recognize it when they show wisdom beyond our own. Don’t pretend you know it all. Lose that ego and see what you can learn.
As our children grow, their lives become more complicated and crazy. As their parents, we need to listen, and help them adjust.
We, as parents, may know what’s best for our children, but they know the most about themselves.
Photography by Henry Bui