We have so much anxiety about our parenting these days. Are we doing it right? Are we teaching our kids all the things they'll need to grow up and succeed in life? And how to be happy.
I want to propose a different strategy.
It's called: be a happy adult.
Or, as my teenager once said to me (in a fit of anger yes, but still: words of wisdom): "Worry less about my life, mom, and more about your own!"
Maybe she was reading Carl Jung, because he said it too:
"Nothing affects the life of a child so much as the unlived life of the parent."
Ouch. But the truth is: it's way more effective (and a heck of a lot more fun) to think about your own life.
Think of it this way: prioritizing your own happiness and wellbeing - and thereby modeling what it looks like in action - is pretty much ... the happy and lazy shortcut to excellent parenting!
Here's why: kids are evolutionarily and neurologically built to learn from what we DO. And not so much from what we say (and say and say and say.)
Children were built to learn from watching.
In addition: no kid wants the burden of being the primary focus of whether their parents are happy or not.
So I suggest first of all: relax. Second, make your focus less on what you say and having it all figured out - and more on how you are in the world.
(Yes ... it all boils down to: walk your talk!)
In your life: are you growing? Are you dealing with your pain? Are you dreaming, and stretching, and practicing good self-care? Are you showing them what it looks like in action to nurture your relationships and have healthy boundaries? Are you trying to live your values and express gratitude?
Lecture less on how to be strong and persevere, and instead let them watch you fall down, make mistakes, and get back up in your life.
Trust that your kids were built smart and autonomous enough to learn how to grow up. They'll ask when they need your support, they'll do it with mistakes and bumps, and they'll do it with a finesse all their own. Just like you did.
Because that's what your kids are actually learning from you - they're not listening to your instructions:
They're watching how YOU do life.
Embrace your own happiness.