Recently, I had the opportunity to watch a highly talked-about TEDx video, Hackschooling Makes Me Happy in which 13-year-old Logan LaPlante details his experiences with a form of education designed to make him HAPPY and HEALTHY. He passionately shares how his rather untraditional homeschooling methods have set him on a path to achieving his long term goal of being HAPPY.
And while most homeschool moms have passed this video around social media like pink eye at the McDonald's playland proclaiming this HAPPY-AND-HEALTHY theme to be the new mantra of home education, it actually caused me to pause and evaluate my thoughts on "happy" children.
Is it my goal...or even my job...to help my children grow into "happy" adults? I pondered.
Nope. Not at all.
(Insert the audible sound of gasps from all the homeschool mommas across cyber-space.)
Now, before you start hurling rotten tomatoes, let me re-iterate one of MY favorite mantras.
As a mom, it's my job to work my way out of a job.
To equip and prepare my children for life.
As a Christian, I use Scripture as my guide. To the best of my ability, I filter all of my parenting decisions through the grid of God's Word knowing that I am a PARENT, a temporary, earthly authority and model for my children.
So many parents, today, are raising an entire generation of entitlement-bound children who will most liking grow to be emotionally-crippled adults.
While I love my children dearly and pray that God will bless their lives in a way that only He can, it is not my job nor my desire to "make them happy".
You see, "happy" is very fleeting. It is an emotion that is completely contingent upon external circumstances...circumstances which cannot always be controlled.
What is to become of the "happy" adult whose heart is broken by unrequited love? How will the "happy" one face the difficulty of an unexpected house fire that destroys all his/her earthly possessions? How will he/she cope after the loss of an unfulfilled dream? a job? a child? What then?
With absolutely no experience in facing UNHAPPY times, my emotionally-paralyzed child will undoubtedly flounder...and perhaps even fall...in epic proportions.
Tour any substance abuse rehab center and I think you will find a common thread among the lives of the patients. You'll meet hurting people who turned to outward sources to heal...or numb...inward pain. Pain and disappointment that they were not properly equipped to handle.
In truth, by attempting to make my world...or my child's world..."all about them", I'm actually setting them up for BIG FAT FAILURE.
I love my kids too much to do that. I love them enough to help them see that it's not always about them
...to take their naturally, self-focused view and broaden their scope to see the needs of others
...to provide a greenhouse of living for them where they can learn and grow from successes as well as mistakes
...to allow them to fall at times in order that they might learn to get up with grace
...to show them that in the end, it's not about them...it's not about me...It's about GOD
...to point their gaze upward, to Him, so that when life gets messy, as it always will, they'll be firmly rooted, upheld by His strength.
SO, If I don't want my kids to be "happy", does that mean that I want them to be unhappy?
Nope. Not at all.
And, if truth be told, one look at Scripture shows that it is not God's goal to provide a HAPPY or UNHAPPY life for them either. Joseph enslaved in Egypt, Job losing all he had, Esther facing the possible annihilation of her entire people, Paul imprisoned, John exiled to Patmos...none of their lives were defined by HAPPY.
The theme among all of these heroes of faith can be summed up by James 1:2-4 which reads,
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (NKJV, emphasis mine)
My prayer for my kids resonates from Romans 15:3
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NIV, emphasis mine)
I want joy for my kids.
Joy is constant, not shaken by the trials of the world.
It is a gift given by THE GIVER that equips you to "be thankful IN all circumstances." (I Thess. 5:18) Notice, the passage does not say FOR all circumstances...just IN all circumstances.
Joy is an inward peace and trust that God is in control...an acknowledgement that life on earth is NOT ABOUT ME, it's about HIM.
It's about loving God by loving others. It's about laying down your wants, your plans, your dreams for the sake of another.
Joy is not a utopian childhood where everything is centered upon what my child wants, what he/she wishes to learn, what will provide him/her with a life defined by HAPPY and HEALTHY.
It's the opposite of ENTITLED. It's the antonym of "Me, Myself, and I."
So, while some homeschool parents might embrace the notion that homeschooling...lifeschooling...hackschooling...should be built upon a foundation of "HAPPY", I choose JOY.
I choose JOY.