Would you buy a parenting book promising to help you raise unhappy kids? Of course not! As a parent, you certainly want your kids to be happy. In fact, much of our time, effort, and money in parenting goes to making our kids happy.
But what if happiness is overrated? What if sometimes, what you really want is unhappy kids? I would argue that having occasionally-unhappy kids means you are parenting your kids well—that you are doing something right. Here are 5 negative things you should want your kids to say that prove they are unhappy.
1. “I’m bored.”
Parents often feel like it’s their job to entertain their kids by keeping them happy and occupied. However, study after study has shown that some degree of boredom is actually healthy for kids and stimulates creative thinking and inventiveness. As philosopher Bertrand Russell noted, “A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow processes of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers, as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”
2. “That’s not fair!”
No doubt you’ve heard this from your child. But our kids need to learn that life does not deal in equity. Some people have to struggle greatly while others struggle very little. Life is not fair, and we can’t wait for it to be fair to find some meaning. We don’t want to intentionally frustrate our children, but we also don’t cater to them. “That’s not fair” can just as easily mean “that’s not what I want.” So we should do what we believe is good for our children and, along the way, help them deal with the reality that life is not always fair. In spite of that, they can still live full and meaningful lives.