There is not one mother who goes into parenthood knowing everything. You can read every book on every shelf about how to raise a child. You can watch documentaries and take advice from friends and family, but there’s no instruction manual on the end of that umbilical cord. It’s all winging it from day one and we often sit and think ‘am I doing this right?’ when it comes to raising children.
The short answer to that, is yes. If your children are fed, watered, have a roof over their head and clothes on their back and are loved, you’re doing it right. However, we all have memories of childhood we’d rather forget. If you come from a home that has suffered divorce or bereavement, especially, it can mess you up as you get older. Avoiding this is the number one concern for most parents, so that their children don’t grow up feeling like there was something missing in their lives.
The issue of whether you raise a happy child is subjective. You could walk your son or daughter into the nearest McDonalds on a Friday night and they’d be the happiest kid in the world because of a Happy Meal. In some families, a happy child is one that gets to eat at all that week, so it’s not an easy question to answer. Basically, children need love and love comes from more than just the three little words.
Love comes from pacing at 2am and singing the same monotonous lullaby for the thirtieth time as it’s the only thing that garners a little silence. It comes from the careful research of early learning centres for your child, to make sure that they get the interaction and education you so desperately want for them. The only true way to know if your child is happy, is to communicate with them. Are they affectionate with you? Are they laughing a lot? Are they communicative and chatty? If you can answer yes to all of those, then you very likely have a happy child on your hands.
You don’t need to panic – not every child is one that will lavish you in cuddles, no matter how hard you try. Parents do the best they can for their children for the most part and putting them first before yourself is the first step to that. Raising a happy child is important, and raising a child with boundaries and rules is also important. It’s finding that balance between independence and keeping them just that little bit close. Giving them the freedom to discover exactly who they are, while encouraging them not to go too far beyond the garden gate. Children need boundaries to thrive and their happiness comes from that security, that knowing you are the safety net who will catch them when they trip.
In short? There’s no secret to raising a happy child. You could read a dozen helpful books about how children are happy and still never find the answer. Love them. Love them as hard as you can and watch them blossom into the happiest people in the world.