Why We Fail To Raise Our Kids to Live As Happy Adults

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Right from the time when children are born, we, as parents make every possible effort to shape our kids to lead a successful life. Children are taught about academics, sports, cleanliness, health, and hygiene both by parents and at school. As they grow up, they are taught life skills needed as an adult such as career, finance and sex education. There is no denying the fact that everything mentioned above is necessary for the well-being of the children and are useful for them for the rest of their lives as an adult, but the most important thing that should be taught to children is often ignored and that is to teach them how to live as happy adults.

Where We Go Wrong:

As Jim Carrey once famously said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”. Everyone chases money, wealth, success and fame, thinking it will bring them happiness.  Once they attain it, they sit there thinking “That’s it?  That’s what all the hype was about?  I don’t feel happy.  I don’t feel fulfilled.  I don’t feel anything.”

It is observed that many adults fail to achieve fulfillment and happiness in life in spite of religiously following all life lessons taught to them by parents and at school. Many adults who are successful in academics, as well as a career, are not happy with the life they are living.

Many adults fail to live a happy life because they were never taught to live a happy life when they were young. The entire focus of current education system is on academic and career success. Life lessons taught are about manners, values, health, and hygiene. Sex education is introduced in adolescent years for protection against sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. They are taught “What is 1 + 1?”, ” What is the chemical formula for water?” and ” What is the distance of the moon from the  earth?” yet they are never taught “If we make good friends, how to never let them go?” The latter being more important to live a happy life. The most crucial factor in living a happy life is often ignored and that is emotional well-being.

The Science of Happiness:

An 80-year-old Harvard study proved that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Several studies found that people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age fifty was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels. Robert Waldinger, director of the study, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School said “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”

In the famous “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” theory, physiological needs and safety needs are placed at the bottom of the pyramid. These are the basic needs and so we can say that they have utmost importance. At the next level, psychological needs such as “Belonging and love” and “Esteem” are placed before “Self-actualization” which is at the very top. If we closely observe the pyramid, “Belonging and love needs” are placed before “Esteem needs”. So we can see that belonging and love needs, such as having intimate relationships and friendships, are more important than Esteem needs such as having prestige and feelings of accomplishment.

I often tell my friends that “It is better to sit in a one bedroom apartment with four friends than sit alone in a four bedroom apartment.”

As an adult, it is easy to get caught up in work and responsibilities and not remember to give time to our relationships with friends, family and community. It’s high time we should teach our teenage children the importance of nurturing relationships, preventing loneliness and living a happy life. Being in a positive state has a significant impact on their motivation, productivity, and wellbeing.

Personal Experience:

I would like to cite a personal example here. Until high school, I was an introvert and a below average student. I had all the time in the world for my studies as I did not have any friends to spend time with or any hobbies to pursue. Yet my grades were consistently poor and did not show any improvement in spite of tremendous societal pressure to perform well in high school.

In twelfth grade, I was able to make a few close friends and started spending a lot of time with them. When twelfth-grade results were out, to my surprise, I had outperformed. I had spent a lot of time doing unnecessary things which otherwise could have been utilized for studying. The friendship and happiness of belonging increased my motivation and concentration levels.

Conclusion:

Parents and Teachers need to be on high alert, and perhaps most importantly, they need to teach their sons and daughters about love and healthy relationships. Positive relationships not only help people live an emotionally healthy life but also contribute to their success by improving their motivation and productivity.

About the Author

Sagar is highly social and likes discussing parenting and emotional health. He pens down his thoughts in moments of solitude.

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