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Happiness or Character?

Laura Kuehn, LCSW
Written by Laura Kuehn, LCSW

“I just want my kids to be happy.”

This statement is something that you hear often. You may even say it from time to time. Everyone wants happy kids. However, there is a problem with this mindset: it can become the yardstick by which we assess if we are doing a good job as a parent or not. For example, if our kids are happy and having fun, we pat ourselves on the back and say, “Well done.” But if they are angry and unhappy with us or our circumstances, we begin to question ourselves: “Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh. Maybe I was wrong.” It is precisely this kind of thinking that gets us into trouble.

If we use God as our role model of the perfect parent, will we not find this concept of happiness as the measure of success in His word. God is not most concerned about our happiness. His greatest concern is with the development of our character. Let’s look at one familiar scripture as an example:

Romans 5:2b-5- “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Here we see that there is a chain reaction that leads to hope and contentment. But it starts with an unlikely catalyst: suffering. That suffering (when endured through the strength of Christ) leads to perseverance. It is that perseverance that develops our character. Only then can we have hope in our faith and contentment in our circumstances. God’s goal is that we would develop more in the likeness of Christ. And Christ suffered. A lot.

As parents, this should be our goal for our children as well. The reality is that they are going dislike you, scream at you and claim that you are making their lives miserable. Don’t let the theatrics shake you from the job that you have been appointed to do. You are in the business of character building and it is hard work.

So, how do you develop character? Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep in mind that character building is not a one-time event. It is a process that will be ongoing as long as you are in a child rearing position.
  • Instill a firm foundation by identifying and enforcing your family values. One of the reasons “Cornerstones” was the title chosen for this site was because it is the most important building block in a structure. Without it, the building will crumble.
  • Establish clear rules and boundaries. Allow consequences to stand, no matter the protest or the “suffering” that it produces.
  • Saturate your children’s days with the love of God and His word.
Image by Pexels from Pixabay
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed therapist who offers parent counseling services to families in Connecticut. She loves to equip and encourage parents of kids of all ages. CfP is the place she combines some of her favorite things: writing, parenting and God's word. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring teens.

1 Comment

  • Thanks, Laura! Some parents fear that being firm makes them the “bad guy”. As you have mentioned before, children long for a sense of boundary and structure, that firm foundation that gives security.

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