Most parents will say that there is nothing more rewarding in the world than being a parent, although it may depend on which day you ask them. The miracle of watching them grow and develop at every step of the way and become their own person is unlike any other experience.
Too often, however, parents may rely on their children as the sole source of their happiness. That is hardly fair, especially if the child does not live up to a parent’s expectations. One of the most challenging questions to ask as a parent may be, “Is my child the source of my happiness?”
Is My Child My Meaning of Life?
Parenting is a tricky balancing act. As infants, children require around-the-clock care, and it is easy to lose yourself in the process. As they grow and mature, it is easier to find more time for other things that give your life meaning. However, many parents get lost in this evolution and maintain their focus on their children.
There is a fine line between being there for your child and your child being everything to you. Asking yourself the question, “Is my child my meaning of life” can be an eye-opening experience.
When was the last time you did something for yourself that was completely unrelated to your child? What do you do on a regular basis that is only for you? Do you have friends, hobbies, and activities that you do that have no relation to your job as a parent?
Are We Doing Things Together Only Because I Like Them?
Sharing a hobby or interest with your child is an exciting experience. Who doesn’t want a built-in sports buddy, someone to go shopping with, or whatever hobby you enjoy?
While it is fair to expose your child to your interests and offer them opportunities to be selfless and engage in activities that might not be their first choice, it is unfair to assume that they have the same passion for your interests.
Part of being in a family is being willing to spend time together even if the activity is not your first choice. But parents should be the most selfless in offering their time to spend engaging in and developing their child’s hobbies and interests.
As adults, we are capable of tending to our own happiness and finding access to our own interests. However, our children need the opportunities to find what makes them happy and find their own path in life, even if that is very different from our own.
The Pressures of Making Parents Happy
Children are just starting their life’s journey and deserve to have experiences that they can learn and grow from without the pressure of pleasing someone else. To expect our children to do things just because we did them puts an enormous amount of pressure on them to try to make us happy.
Our kids may have an entirely different personality, different interests, ideas, and plans for their lives. Taking on the pressure of trying to please us, live up to our standards, and be what we want them to be rather than who they want to be can be incredibly stressful.
The Dangers of Parentification
Speaking of stress, sometimes parents place emotional or physical responsibilities on their child to “parent” them or parent for them. By sharing adult-level emotional burdens, asking them to take on adult responsibilities such as caring for siblings or even caring for parents before the child is old enough, the child grows up too fast. This is known as parentification and can be emotionally damaging, impacting relationships now and later in life.
Do I Take Responsibility For My Own Happiness?
Children should never be the only meaning in our lives. They should not be responsible for our happiness, for pleasing us, or for living up to our expectations. That is an unfair amount of pressure to place on your child, and all of those responsibilities are our own.
Our happiness is our own responsibility, and our child’s happiness can be impacted for the good when they know we are happy.
Have you asked yourself the tough questions? Are you reflecting your interests, hobbies, and even school or occupational choices onto your child to please you? Does your world revolve around your child like a planet around the sun?
Or do you sometimes leave orbit and pursue your own interests? Have you shared too much with your child about relationships, decisions, stressors, and more? Or do you take responsibility for your own happiness?
True happiness is when your child brings you happiness, but your happiness is not dependent upon your child.
Is your child the source of your happiness? Honestly ask yourself what your motivations are as a parent, what you do that is fulfilling and makes you happy, or if you are dependent upon your child for your happiness. Part of parenting is learning to take responsibility for your own happiness and allowing your child to forge their own path. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center offers parents support to help them ask difficult questions and allow them to grow along with their children. If your child has been struggling with serious issues such as substance abuse, mental health, cutting, anger, or more, we can help them find their way back to their own path in life and live healthy, responsible, and happy lives. Our Estes Park, Colorado facility offers families the opportunity to heal simultaneously. Contact us at (303) 443-3343 to learn more about how we can help your family’s fire burn brightest.