3 Reasons Putting Yourself First Will Make Your Kids Happier
Photo: Kelly Skalsky
Parents are judged as being selfish for doing anything for themselves in today's world. We may think we're immune to the opinions of others, but society's pointy finger can affect us in unforeseen ways. From womb to college, the condemning advice proffered by friends, family and strangers can unknowingly guilt parents into 18 years of martyrdom. What a sad state of affairs for families, children included.
If you don't regularly engage in happy-making activities just for yourself, you aren't operating at your optimum level as a human, and therefore as a parent. According to this video from the Happiness Expert at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, Ph.D., there are three main reasons that our own happiness as parents is important:
1. Emotions are contagious, both positive and negative.
Whether a mother is angry, anxious, jolly or joyous, those emotions will spread to her children. Depressed moms often wind up with kids who have behavioral problems. If you bring happiness into your own life, it's way easier to raise happy kids. When you're happy, then your child is far more likely to be happy, too.
2. Happiness makes you a better parent.
Happy parents are warmer and more responsive to their children. Being happy can make you a better listener and more sensitive to your children's needs.
When you give yourself the time and space to be a complete and fulfilled individual, you have the wherewithal and insight to provide the same opportunity to your children. Learn how to pursue your passion, even with small children at home.
3. Model happiness for our children.
Kids do what we do, not what we tell them to do. If we're exercising and getting enough sleep, and doing whatever else it takes to make us happy, then our kids see that and learn from our behavior.
Dr. Carter's Prescription: schedule a moment of bliss every single day for a burst of happiness. Keep a list of things that make you happy to refer back to and do one thing on the list each day.
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