Today might have been a challenging day. Maybe there were too many hassles and not enough uplifts. Maybe it is a matter of perspective.

Our culture and values make our children prominent but not in the way you might think. Often when we talk about putting our children first, we really mean their successes, their promise, our hopes for their future.  I am as guilty as anyone — some might say more.

I am too often thinking about my children in the future. That is not to say that I have my moments of sanity when I love being with them right where they are at right now. I say sanity because living ahead of my children and imagining their continued stunning success and talent takes me away from them. It is an attitude that takes me away from the pure joy and true loss of the day to day pleasures and disappointments.

How about looking at your life from another angle? Emily Rapp is a writer and professor. Her son has a genetic condition called Tays-Sachs disease that will take his life before he is three years old. She published a short piece on the New York Times recently about her view of parenting. I don’t think that her book or her piece will have the popularity that the book by Amy Chu had on being a Tiger Mom. I think that at the end of the day, I’d rather be a Dragon Mom. I just fail too often.

When we take a moment to be present with our children in the world we live in, we are more likely to be able to take pleasure in the good stuff and let go of the unimportant. Those anger generating and sustaining thoughts can melt in front of stark reality that your life with your children is brief and always changing.

There is almost nothing anyone HAS to do. There are good reasons for the things that do not get done. The day is only so long. We are each allotted a small amount of self-restraint. No one can do two things with their brain at exactly the same time. All of these things are limited and no amount of pressure will change these facts.

We can make the world a little closer to what we want it to be. We can be available to help our children accomplish their goals and learn to make themselves a little happier and more confident. We can turn off the false alarms that if my child does not do everything expected of him or her, he or she will FAIL.  We can be mindful of those with fewer advantages and opportunities than us.

It turns out that having everything and being “perfect” does not make one happier.  Considerable research has shown us that success follows expectations of success and, most importantly, willingness to engage in challenges.Everyday brings us choices about in or avoiding a challenge. We can stay with something difficult and find the success or we can quit to do something easy. We are happy sticking with the challenges. Parenting is a challenge that just might improve your well being.

(You can learn more about happiness at the American Psychological Association).

Kelly M Champion, Ph.D.

engaging