by Kendra Fleming

I want a lot of things for my kids, but if I were completely honest, I would tell you that I want my kids to be happy. I don’t like it when they are sad. I feel bad when they don’t make the team. I hate it when they are not invited to the party.

When their feelings get hurt, when they are suffering the consequences of poor choices, when their best friend moves away or when their boyfriend breaks up with them; all of these circumstances could possibly break the heart of my kids. They also have the potential to break mine.

I want my kids to be happy. I spend a lot of time picking out their birthday gifts because I want to see that big smile of surprise and well… happiness. I go to concerts that I don’t really enjoy because it makes my kids happy! I eat pizza every Friday night. Why? Because my kids love it!

But there are a lot of things I do that don’t make them so happy. They’ve all had their shots. Ouch! I cook vegetables on most nights. They have to help with the dishes and do their homework. They have to be home by their curfew. They aren’t allowed to go to certain parties, and they don’t get everything they want.

In other words, sometimes I don’t make them so happy.

Whenever I know that my kids are unhappy and I feel tempted to jump in and fix it, I ask myself: what are my kids gaining from this experience? Who will they become as a result of going through this? Could that be more important than their happiness?

Then I substitute the word “happy” with some of the following:

I want my kids to be content.
I want my kids to be learning.
I want my kids to be compassionate.
I want my kids to be challenged.
I want my kids to be grateful.
I want my kids to gain experience.
I want my kids to be generous.
I want my kids to solve problems.
I want my kids to be creating.
I want my kids to be growing.
I want my kids to be wise.

I want this for them MORE than I want them to be happy. Sometimes I still find myself working pretty hard to make them happy. What about you? What do value in your child’s life more than their happiness? Are you helping them gain those things? Or are you making them happy?

We are honored to have Kendra Fleming, a dear friend, guest post on our blog. Kendra is the Director of Children’s Ministry at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. She lives in Cumming, GA with her husband Gary and their four children, Jessica (19), Catherine(18), Jack(15), and Emily(13).