You often hear parents say “I just want my kids to be happy.”
I get it.
There’s great pleasure as a parent seeing your kids really enjoy life and deep pain when you see your kids struggle.
But there’s a problem with this intuition.
It doesn’t answer the question, “What kind of happy?”
There are levels of happiness.
Some experiences of happiness come from a deep well of joy and others from cheap superficial pleasures.
Several years ago I remember sharing this with my son Jackson. When I was bringing discipline into his life that made things momentarily unpleasant I shared my heart with him about happiness.
“Do you notice that at almost every Shabbat your grandfather seems to tear up at some point? Watch his eyes and there is always this moment when we’re around the table, or telling some story or when one of you shares about your week when tears seem to fill his eyes.
Do you know what that is? He’s feeling so much meaning in that moment, he can’t contain the joy. Son, that is what I want you to feel. The pleasure that comes from loving your wife, your kids and your God faithfully for decades that culminates in deeper and deeper pleasures. That’s the good life.”
What kind of happy do you want your kids to feel?
Are you training them to feel cheap pleasures or deep pleasures?
Cotton candy happiness and grandfather at the table happiness are not equal.
Our heavenly Father wants his kids to be happy too but He’s willing to prepare us to be the kind of children who can receive heavenly happiness where “at his right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
This entry is a part of Jeremy’s Journal, a newsletter Jeremy sends out every Wednesday morning to encourage you on your parenting journey. You can sign up to get them every Wednesday here.