Parents often try to be cool, to be a friend to their children and not a parent, often in harmful ways. Providing alcohol for parties, turning a blind eye to risky behavior; parents fall into this trap in the mistaken belief that it will keep their children close. The photo above is NOT one of those parents. She is cool alright, getting down and muddy with her daughter’s sixth grade class on a spiritual retreat that is an annual event at the Christian school her children attend. She leads her daughters by example and in this instance she excels in having unselfconscious fun.
Watching a parent act in joyful, playful ways gives children permission to do the same. It gives them a sense of safety and security to connect with a happy parent, one who participates in adventurous activities. Freeing oneself confers freedom upon one’s children as well. To give up pretense, to act in a way that is true to oneself and one’s belief system, wasting no time worrying about the opinions of others, a parent is revealing themselves to their children and paving the path for a happy, grounded child who grows into adulthood with the same open, lighthearted approach. Strong guidance through one’s positive actions instead of lecturing, chastising and berating bestows the title of cool parent without giving up one shred of leadership or strength of belief.
Working on our own happiness has a ripple effect, and the strongest waves from our center are the ones nearest us. Children who have the benefit of a parent who exhibits their own happiness freely create ripples of joy on the playground, in the classroom and on into their adulthood. Giving happiness a top billing in our lives serves us directly and radiates outward to all we touch.