Sunday, January 15, 2012

Helping Your Child Find Happiness in Life

Jesus Calls Andrew & John

The Search for Happiness
Judging by the number of articles in popular magazines and talk show experts discussing it on television, finding happiness would seem to be no simple matter.  To the world, happiness appears to be an elusive mixture of so many things: financial success, personal fulfillment, career satisfaction, all tied together by a healthy dose of high self-esteem and more.  

Getting all of these pieces into place and doing so at the same time is practically impossible.  It's no wonder so many people are unhappy!  And, since finding happiness for yourself seems so difficult, helping someone else to find it would seem to be impossible.  

And yet, every parent wants his or her child to have a happy life. With the world being such a crazy, mixed-up place, it couldn't possibly be a simple matter to set your child on a path to finding happiness in life, could it?

I believe it can be.  

However, you first have to strip away the confusion caused by the competing messages of the modern world.  Do that, and you begin to discover the path to finding true happiness-- a path that can then be made visible to children.  

Don't get me wrong-- financial success, personal fulfillment, career satisfaction-- these are blessings from God, but they were never meant to be replacements for the true source of our happiness: God Himself.  We do our children a disservice if we lead them to believe that they'll find true and lasting happiness in the things of this earth.

Guiding Your Child
Two references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church combine to form a powerful message:

27 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. . . Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones."

Since they have been created by God, for God, our children will only find true happiness in Him.  Good Father that He is, God has a plan for each of them, something the church refers to as their vocation.  

Therefore, the way to help your child find happiness in life is to teach him or her that material and personal circumstances are not the source of our true joy.  God is.  By seeking and doing His will (their vocation in life), they'll discover a deeper joy-- one that transcends temporary circumstances, life's ups and downs, and forces beyond their control.  

In an address at the Vatican today, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of parents in helping children discern their vocation: "by their genuine faith and joyful married love, [parents] show children that it is beautiful and possible to build all your life on the love of God.” (

Heavenly Father, help us to teach our children to discern Your will for them.  In doing so, we will have set them on the path to true happiness in their lives!

As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts, and feedback below.

Further Reading

Special Thanks
To my wife-- for her help in working out the details of this post!

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