The Key To Raising Happy, Healthy Kids (Which Lead to Happy, Healthy Adults)!
Updated: Sep 20
I have spent most of my career working with adolescents, young adults and their families. In my almost 10 years of practice, I have come to realize "the secret" to raising successful, happy kids (who later become happy, successful adults) is this -let go of control, accept all the feelings, and practice self-love.
Before I jump in, I want to make this clear: this post was written from my professional experience. Every person is unique and each family has their own needs. I wrote this blog from a place of compassion and a desire to improve people's lives.
Step #1: Let Go of Control
I understand that most parents try to do what's best for their children, which includes guiding them and helping them learn to make good decisions. A parent's job, after all, is to keep their children safe and try to raise them to the best of their ability. As children grow up, they want to make their own choices and sometimes, those choices differ from their parents' desires. I often get phone calls from parents who want me to try and change their children or help them understand that the choices they are making are wrong. As a therapist, I of course have to make sure they are safe. I also help people by ensuring they feel heard, respected and confident enough in themselves to make a choice - whether it is "right or wrong". Many parents struggle to accept their child's "wrong" choice. My advice is this: grieve the child you envisioned (parents, your feelings are valid too) then try your best to see your child for who they are. Let go of what you cannot control so you have the emotional bandwidth to "show up" for the child in front of you.
I often see children who are afraid to express themselves openly and honestly because they believe their parents will not agree with, or accept, them. Children who feel they don't have control in their lives often struggle with their self-esteem, they may experience anxiety and depression, and oftentimes their school work is negatively affected. Many young adults develop unhealthy coping skills and struggle with familial relations as a result of this internal turmoil. I believe many of the problems I see could be resolved if parents listened, reflected, and validated their children, rather than try to change them. When parents are open to accepting and loving their children wholly, I find the children become more resilient and they trust their caregivers more.
As Deborah Norville said, "It is a parent's job to give their kids roots to grow and wings to fly."
Step #2: Accept All the Feelings
Most people want to feel happiness, excitement, love and connection; yet we need to feel sadness, disappointment, rejection, and anxiety. In order to experience "comfortable" feelings, we must also experience "uncomfortable" feelings.
People often go to great lengths to avoid feeling certain emotions, whether it is self-injurious behavior, drugs, or sex, to name a few. Food is also often used as a way to increase a sense of control. Letting go of the need to control our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will allow us to accept ourselves, sit with our experiences and pay attention to what's happening around us. When people acknowledge all of their feelings, they often find that healing, and self-love, can begin.
Step #3: Practice Self-Love
Loving ourselves sounds corny and cliche. It is also easier said than done. Self-love is a really important step in developing a happy, healthy person - regardless of age.
As of 2020, the self-help industry was worth over $10.5 billion. U.S. sales of self-help books grows annually up to 18.6 million volumes. McLoughlin, D. (2022, December 16). Self-Help Books Sales Statistics. Self-Help Books Statistics. https://wordsrated.com/self-help-books-statistics/
I help people learn to feel more confident in who they are (or who they are becoming). People change all the time and the key to feeling contentment is to be OK with those changes. When kids feel good about themselves, parents often find their home is more peaceful. When parents feel good about themselves, they often have more patience and understanding to support their children, which again, leads to a happier, more peaceful home.
I define self-love as embracing your interests, identifying your strengths, and feeling confident in the decisions you make.
In summary, when people (young or old) learn to let go of control, accept their emotions, and be OK with the person staring back in the mirror - then they will feel happier with their life.
If you are ready to make a change in your life, contact me. I am excited to use my knowledge and experience to support you through your journey towards health, happiness and inner peace.
In good health,
Melissa Golub, LCSW
Owner of MZG Counseling, LLC