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The Need to Make Your Kids Happy is Destroying Them

April 26, 2020 | by M. Gary Neuman

We want to teach our children to live a life of meaning and success, not just be happy.

Excerpted from M. Gary Neuman’s new book, Listen, Discipline and Respect:

The Only 3 Techniques You Need to Raise Great Kids, which he is offering for FREE online at

Mastering these three techniques will make you a great parent:

  • Listening/Communicating
  • Discipline
  • Respect

It’s likely none of them surprise you, but allow me to explain why I’ve chosen only these specific three and why they’re the only ones you need to know. You might quickly agree with me regarding secrets 2 and 3; everyone says they don’t like to discipline and how we’ve lost the art of teaching respect. But you might not realize how hard it is to be skilled enough at the first one, especially in today’s fast paced and attention diverting world. Even the most loving, caring parents can have difficulty listening to their kids. But if you learn to “hear” your children, you will know how best to love them and satisfy their needs. If you teach them how to control and manage their lives through healthy discipline, they will become self-disciplined. Finally, teaching them how to respect others and themselves will be the final ingredient in setting your child up to live their lives successfully, however they define it. The good news: you’ll have a clear path and ability to be the best parent you can be and it won’t take long.

The Need to Make Your Kids Happy is Destroying Them

I am a father of five wonderful kids and two beautiful grandsons (and counting).

I want them to be very happy, all of the time. It’s my dream. But it’s also a crippling fantasy. Our desire to maintain our children in a perpetual state of comfort, peace and joy fiercely contradicts our obligation to raise them as successful adults.

Life is fraught with incredible challenges. The human heart is given an assortment of emotions that are far from happy, and for good reason: people must use this collection of feelings to manage life’s varied circumstances. When a person isn’t prepared for life’s frustrating moments, yet alone heartache or heartbreak, she is thrown into a world ill prepared. She will be anything but happy.

A Trophy for Every Child?

I don’t know if every little league participant should receive a trophy or not, but I know the championship team members should take home trophies at least double in size. The so-called winners and losers have a lot to learn, and if they don’t learn it in childhood, they might never learn it in adulthood. You may think you’re simply delaying these lessons; your child will pick it up as she goes along in adulthood. Why should you be the “bad” one to show her the discomfort of life? But she’s at risk to never learn valuable coping mechanisms and that will be her personal tragedy. She may never resilience. She may spend her years finding fault with how “life” is treating her because she simply is too overwhelmed and devoid of the ability to manage life’s hardships.

What to Do

We would show our children healthier love by taking the “happy” out as our primary target. Is happiness really your #1 objective for your child?

We want our children to live a life of meaning. A life devoid of complications and challenges is one devoid of richness. Isn’t success as an adult defined by some form of accomplishment outside of self service?

Our jobs as parents is to prepare our children for a successful life and to take on their world. How are we doing that? Attempting to shield them from all adversity as much as possible while showering them with external pleasures in an attempt to make them happy is terribly unfair to them.

We want to teach our children to live a life of meaning and success. How you define those terms is unique to you. But if you teach it well to your kids by the time they leave your nest, they will experience more happiness in adulthood than if you focused on only teaching them happiness itself. We want our children to be happy, but we know that happy comes from within. One’s ability to be tenacious, resilient, spiritual, and loving will offer internal happiness. Using external sources to create happiness is fleeting and dangerous since the one thing we do not control is our external world. Learning to find peace and happiness with personal, internal accomplishments gives us the chance at controlling our happiness.

We want to prepare our children for a complicated world and have them face it with incredible strength, to make it work for them. That doesn’t happen by expecting happiness at every turn. But when they are realistically expecting to work hard at creating their life of personal meaning, they’ll find happiness at most turns even when challenges strike.

My dream is to help you love your child in a way that will prepare her for life. It means teaching her how to respect others and herself, how to discipline her so that she learns self-control and inner strength, and how to listen to her so that she’ll feel connected to you and able to process her complicated emotions in life. There’ll be a lot of laughter and fun but happiness will come through inner strength and fortitude.

To master the three techniques – listening, discipline and respect – please read my book which is available for free at


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