I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Why I DON'T Want My Kids to be Happy

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.

Why I Don't Want My Kids to be Happy {The Unlikely Homeschool}
Serving together at the Kids Against Hunger packing center

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.

Donating her hair to be made into a wig for a child fighting cancer

While I MIGHT be able to manage and control their lives while they are young...provide a nice, padded environment where I can cater to their every educational and lifestyle whim, what will happen when my children leave my "happy" little nest and face their first unhappy difficulty?

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 with 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.

Shoes purchased by my children for needy children in Congo

Tour any substance abuse rehab center and I think you will find a common thread in 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.

A big brother inviting a "shadow" to share his chair and do school with him

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.

An encouraging note secretly given from one sibling to another

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 acknowledgment 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.


  1. I agree with you 100%! Thank you for sharing your insights!

  2. WOW! You are right on with this very wonderful post! My children have all graduated homeschooling, and I would have to agree with you on all your points; very well said. My reason for homeschooling was always to "raise them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." Great job Jamie!

    Always Experiencing Him,

    1. Glad to know that a momma on the other end of the journey agrees. That is great affirmation!

  3. I really liked the tedx video. I felt like their were things that I could take from it like following my child's interest (but to a reasonable degree). On the other hand I totally agree with you. Also, I know you do some child directed learning and I think you are a great example of how to do this in a balanced way!

    1. Yes, I think that there were definitely points worth taking away. And to be clear, I think his surface point of wanting to choose a different path...to go against the status quo because the status quo is just not a great path...is spot on. I just think his underlying message stems from an "all about me"/"whatever makes me happy" ideology that is in direct opposition to how I want to raise my kids.

    2. And yes! You are completely correct. Balance. That's the key.

  4. Jamie, I agree whole heartedly!! This is one of those posts that I want to keep and read over again when I wonder why I need to be so "radical" in raising my kids. I've been following you for a few months now and am thoroughly blessed by your wisdom and honesty. Thank you!


    1. How encouraging of you to take the time to say. Radical parenting is really what this world needs...parents who don't except the advice of the world.

  5. Well said Jamie! I saw a chalk art printable on pinterest about JOY it said J- Jesus, O- Others, Y- You. It's our duty as parents, homeschoolers or not to train up our children in the ways of the Lord. Keep up the great post! :)

    1. I've always loved that little Sunday School song, Jesus and Others and You. Thanks for reminding it to me. I've got to remember to teach that one to my kids.

  6. When I try to communicate this idea they look at me like I have two heads, lol but you said it very clearly and just right. Even the usage of the word "happy" in the Bible would have been better translated as "blessed" when you look at the original Hebrew and Greek words

    1. Yes, I have studied "happy" in Scripture and it certainly is not the same definition that we would use for it in the 21st century. Thank you for pointing this out.

  7. YES! I love that you wrote this and put it out there for the world to see.

  8. Very true- a big difference between happiness and joy.It is a 'me' world and we should be teaching our children that it is not all about them. That is very rare these days. I am almost on the other side of homeschooling; my children would probably say I was not most concerned with their happiness. LOL

  9. Oh, forgot to say- I absolutely adore the photo of the little guy doing 'school' with big brother!

    1. Yes. A BIG difference. Joy is definitely counter-cultural.

      I love that picture too. My littlest one wanted to be a part of the action one day and without being asked, his older brother lifted him up onto his chair, handed him a pencil and paper, and got right back to his school work. They sat there for so long just doing "school" side-by-side. It was one of those moments when I wished I could just stop time.

  10. Love this post!!! Totally agree. I want my kids to enjoy learning but I do not want them to be entitled, spoiled children who cannot handle when life throws them a curve ball or they don't get what they want. I know too many adults who will go through anything to get what they want convincing themselves what they are choosing is moral. I also know so many parents who go through unbelievable lengths to give their children more than they had or whatever they want. This is dangerous. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned as a child were from not getting what I wanted and learning to handle it with grace. I hope I am doing that for my kids too.

    1. Wonderfully spoken. I, too, think that some of my greatest life lessons growing up came from learning to hear "no" and having to pick myself up when I experienced a "fall."