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You do NOT JUST want your kids to be happy.


You will fight me on this one friends, but I'm ready.

Many of my clients often say this sentence to me - "I just want my kids to be happy." 

They tell me this because their brains tell them the same thing.

My clients are lying to me, because their brains are lying to them.

Be honest.  Does this sound familiar to you?

 I’m willing to bet that a lot of you are saying right now (if you haven't thrown your phone across the room), "Yeah, of course I just want  my kids to be happy."

Listen, I get you.

We’ve all said this many, many times.

Yet, it is this thought that my clients need to do the most work on.

It’s tricky, right?  The sentence sounds so appropriate.

It sounds so fundamentally accurate and true to believe that you just want your kids to be happy.

These little sentences – these neural pathways in our brains – are so well worn and familiar that they are very much a part of our core beliefs.

But these little sentences are bullshit, and they are the source of your pain.

The keys to a more peaceful, more productive, more emotionally healthy balanced life for yourself -- and for your children -- is to question these little sentences.

Really, though?  Do I really just want them to be happy, or just want them to be safe?

And, how’s that working out?

Here’s what our lovely human brains like to do to us, when we’re not managing those brains.  Our brains feed us one or more of these bullshit lies, usually about some external circumstance that involves our divorce, our ex and our kids.

When you think “I just want my kid to be happy” about your divorce, your ex or a related circumstance, how do you feel?

Does it feel good or peaceful or empowering?

Or is it more like a sinking feeling?

And when you feel whatever that feeling is that you feel when you think “I just want my kid to be happy,” what do you do? Or not do?

I’ll tell you what I used to do, and what most of my clients do before I teach them this shift.  They spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to manipulate and control everything outside of them under the guise of trying to “make” their child happy.

Does that sound familiar?

What is that action creating for you in your life?  I’ll tell you – when you’re feeling anxious in this scenario, you’re not anxious because of your ex and what he’s doing or not doing, you’re anxious because of your thought.  Any action that you’re taking from the anxiety that you’re feeling because of the thought, “I just want my kid to be happy,” is going to create a result where you are completely draining yourself of any happiness.

And I know you’ll all agree with me on this. . . if you’re not happy, your children are not happy.

So here’s what I want to offer to you as an alternative.

What if we dropped the idea that we just want our kids to be happy?

Or safe?

Because, the truth is that’s not really all that we want. . .right?

Even though our brains tell us that lie.

If you’re telling yourself that you want your kids to be happy all of the time, then that means you want them to be happy about everything, including. . . 

when someone dies. . . 

when they see something negative or violent. . . 

when your ex says something disparaging about you.

The reality is that your children exist on this planet with human brains, just like you and me.

So, they will be exposed to circumstances that they will appropriately have the full range of feelings about, including. . . 



and even deep sadness or grief at the loss of someone or something that they deeply loved.

As parents, we (of course) instinctively believe that we “just” want our children to be happy.

But here's the truth. . .

Having the ability to feel the full range of human emotion is a gift.  It really is..

If your children never experience disappointment or frustration. . .

then they will never know what it is to feel accomplished, proud, fulfilled.

If they are never sad. . .

then they would not know what happiness is.

I promise you that feeling negative feelings cannot hurt you or your children.  We hurt ourselves when we resist, avoid or try to buffer away our negative feelings. 

And if I’m right about this (and I know that I am). . .

. . if the best thing for your children is for them to learn how to feel their feelings, then you know the best way to teach them, right?

You do it first.

You become the expert at feeling your own feelings, and then you demonstrate and teach that skill to your children.

They are already watching and listening to you, no matter what you do.

Take advantage of that attention and be intentional about what you’re showing to them, because there is no better person for the job than you.

Talk to you soon, friends.  Take good care until then.

Janie Lanza Vowles - Practicing Divorce Lawyer - Certified Life Coach