What if Your Child is Unhappy?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 3/9/2020

Your child’s happiness is important but being happy should not be the main goal in your parenting or in the reason your child plays youth sports. It will, however, be a result of doing what is right.

In the book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, Tim Elmore explains that true satisfaction, for ourselves or our kids, comes from generosity, commitment and respect for the person in the mirror. However, happiness as the goal, instead of a by-product, it is elusive and disappointing. Your parenting goal should be to help your kids know how to make wise decisions. Happiness and fulfillment will follow.

No parent wants to see their child unhappy. I’m sure that I used the phrase “I just want you to be happy” more than once to each of our three kids. Unfortunately, that is not effective parenting. Remember that happiness should be a by-product of wise choices, not a goal to be pursued at all costs.

This is especially seen in the world of youth sports where parents are obsessed with their kids being happy all the time as they play. Heaven forbid that a child runs into obstacles or problems and becomes “unhappy.” Parents often resort to switching teams or coaches just to make their kids “happy.”

This will be hard to hear, but parents need to be willing to sacrifice their child’s temporary happiness for long-term happiness. This is part of teaching them to be disciplined adults themselves. It’s way too easy for parents, teachers and coaches to focus on keeping kids happy and feeling as if life is fair.

Life is NOT fair. Your child may grow up and not get the job, the raise, the promotion they want. They may lose money, a bid on a house, a job, a friend. If your child is raised in an all-is-fair bubble, then they will not know how to cope with loss when they get older.

If happiness is the goal for our kids, we will create consumers who want and need more and more in order to make them happy. But if giving rather than receiving is the goal, happiness is almost always the result.

Remind your kids that working hard for a goal brings satisfaction and that they should seek to contribute to others’ happiness more than being obsessed with finding happiness themselves.

The need to see your kids happy will push you to exhaust yourself trying to rescue your children and fix their problems. While it may provide temporary relief for certain situations, it’s guaranteed to result in long-term issues as your child grows to adulthood.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.


USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.