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In a world with helicopter parenting, the constant search for balance between children, work, relationships, social life and additional pressure from various trends of “perfect” Instagram families it is easy to lose sight of happiness and become an unhappy parent.  Being a parent is hard work and staying happy requires some effort but luckily science provides a few ways of how to become a happier parent.

Take care of yourself

Parents want to give everything that is the best for their child, to give something that they did not have while growing up, but most importantly every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy.  However, sometimes people get lost in their role as a parent, they start to prioritize their children more and forget to take care of themselves.

One of the most important things a parent can do for his child is to be happy himself or herself. This could sound selfish or strange at first, but research says that children are dramatically affected by their parent’s happiness or unhappiness. For example, parental depression is found to be linked with children behavior problems as well as poor well-being and it also makes parenting less effective. Children are sensitive and sense more than people might think. A child understands if someone is upset or there are being lied to. They understand if their parents are not happy which makes them worry and affects their happiness. When a parent is happy then the children are happy as well.

Furthermore, people are the happiest and most relaxed when they engage in leisure activities. A parent should not forget to take breaks and devote time to do something that makes him or her happy as a person. It might be an activity a person loves to do, such as reading a book or taking a walk by himself or herself. It is crucially important for parents to not only plan their children’s leisure time but also to find the time to take care of themselves in order to be happy and enjoy parenthood. 

Do Not Compare

One of the things people do is constantly comparing themselves to each other: one of the friends have a car and I do not, the colleague’s children started attending a prestige college and mine did not etc.  Especially now, with the constant presence of social media and the new trend of Instagram influencer mothers, it is hard for mothers and fathers not to compare their parenthood and children with those they see on social media. This happens to all people; however, this comparison very quickly makes people unhappy. Comparing yourself as a parent and your children to others will only make you discontent and miserable. In order to be happy parents stop comparing your parenting and just enjoy your family, follow your ideas and values, and do not mind what others are doing.

Practice Forgiveness

Bringing up children requires parents to practice some level of discipline as well as forgiveness. Children constantly do something that could make every parent to feel angry and react not in the best way. However, every parent needs to remember that is only natural for children to make a mess or mistakes as they are growing and learning from these mistakes. By practicing forgiveness parents show their children that making mistakes is not the end of the world. Moreover, forgiving people are associated with healthier emotional reactions and are less hostile than people who hold resentments. Parenting with guilt only leads to misery. In general, these forgiving people experience more positive emotions, and satisfaction with their lives. By practicing forgiveness, a parent will be happier and will teach the importance of it to his or her children.

To enjoy parenthood and all its joys one needs to remember to take care of yourself by engaging in activities that you enjoy. These could take the forms of meeting friends or simply reading a book. Moreover, comparing yourself to others never ends well especially in these social media days. By practicing forgiveness parents move on faster from any incidents with the children and teach one of the important life lessons to their children. Being a happier parent is not an easy path to follow but it is possible.

Key words: parenthood, parent, children, childhood, happiness, happy parent, happy child, social comparison, forgiveness, practicing forgiveness.

References

Monroe, J. (2019, January 10). The Theory of Social Comparison and Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/empowering-teens/theory-of-social-comparison/

National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Healthy Development of Children; England MJ, Sim LJ, editors. Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); (2009). 4, Associations Between Depression in Parents and Parenting, Child Health, and Child Psychological Functioning. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215128/

Newman, D. B., Tay, L., & Diener, E. (2014). Leisure and Subjective Well-Being: A Model of Psychological Mechanisms as Mediating Factors. Journal of Happiness Studies. Kluwer Academic Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-013-9435-x

Research on the Science of Forgiveness: An Annotated Bibliography. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_science_of_forgiveness_an_annotated_bibliography

Biography:

Aistė Alysaitė is Bachelor of Psychology Student at Mykolas RomerisUniversity in Vilnius, Lithuania. She is participating in Willingness Inernational intership.