A recent report by UNICEF, which analyzed data from 41 high-income countries, found that children in the Netherlands had the highest sense of well-being, followed by Denmark and Norway.
At the bottom? Chile, Bulgaria, and yes, the United States.
Anita Cleare, author of “The Working Parent’s Survival Guide,” told CNBC regarding the report, “I think that growing up in a culture where everyone’s unique gifts are celebrated, and children feel like they can be who they want to be, and they’re not being judged, is likely to make friendships more positive, playground culture more positive, and is going to help children’s happiness levels.”
But here in the United States, we don’t live in a society where everyone’s unique gifts are celebrated or worry about our children’s highest sense of well-being. Instead, parents force their children down a path of conformity, often dictated by their own expectations of what they believe is best for their children.
Sadly, what parents are really doing by forcing their children to conform is what’s best for themselves. What will make them look good in the eyes of a judgmental society that considers normalcy as a measure of personal success.
This brainwashing leads our children into believing they need to continually compare themselves with others to be competitive, to be dominant, and number one. This plagues them with unnecessary anxieties and other mental health disorders at a very young age – definitely NOT the designation of a child’s highest sense of well-being.
Parents need to understand once and for all that your children are not you.
While they might resemble you in appearance, they are never meant to become a clone of you – believing what you believe, being interested in your interests, supporting what you support. The greatest gift we can give our children is the ability to be themselves – to learn who they are and what they’re passionate about without interference.
Yes, parents should be there to guide their children and offer constructive advice and support. But not at the expense of extinguishing their inner voices and desires from being heard.
Ask yourself, are you forcing your child to play a sport, an instrument, or some other activity because that’s what you want or what they want? Has your behavior caused your children to simply go along with what you suggest rather than risk disappointing you?
I’m not surprised that the United States is at the bottom of the list for a child’s highest sense of well-being and happiness. I’ve seen parents forcing their children to conform throughout society and in my very own family – a confirmation of parents thinking more about what’s good for themselves and not what’s suitable for their children.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Childhood is short. If you want your children to be truly happy, to feel a sense of great accomplishment, then let them be who they are and love them for their uniqueness. Remember, your children are not you.