Do You Want to be Right, or Do You Want to be Happy?

Boy, did I ever hear that a lot growing up.  As most teens fresh out of puberty, I had plenty of opinions that were Phil - website portraitnon-negotiable.  I was right and that was that.  My parents (and any other adult for that matter) didn’t have a clue and were obviously, hopelessly out of touch.

Then, by the magical humor of the universe, before I knew it I had teenagers of my own.  Now I understand some of what my parents had to deal with, and their gracious patience and understanding.

Fortunately, I also work at Cherokee Creek Boys School and have the advantage of seeing middle school behavior in generous supply.  Our school is a learning environment both in academics and social skills.  I could see what great effect we were having on the lives of our students here at school, and I decided to try some of the same techniques at home.

First, I recognized the division of labor…hey, I really don’t have to do everything AND know everything.  My teens  were developing their independence for the first time … they were supposed to act as if they knew everything.  I remembered that as a young teen, I had just enough years under my belt to feel like I had a handle on all of life’s difficulties.  It wasn’t until I added a couple of decades that I began to realize how much I didn’t know.

So, with my own kids, I changed my approach and my role.  I realized that they were in a transition phase and needed to form their own opinions and reasoning.  I changed from telling them how they were suppose to think to asking them why they thought a certain way, and I tried to help them form more fully their own thoughts.  I was happy to see the openness that developed between us when they were able to express their own thoughts and feelings.

After all, I reasoned, I’m not going to be able to make decisions for my kids their whole life, nor would I want to. So I changed my approach from telling and demanding to asking and listening. My role switched from dictator to mentor and coach.   I realized that they were in a transition phase and needed to form their own opinions and reasoning.  They were trying out new ideas for the first time and developing the ability to express these fledgling ideas to their peers and to adults.

I decided to be happy and enjoy my kids … let them take on the anxiety of being right. It is a rite of passage we, as their wiser parents or teachers, must allow them. It is a rite of passage they, as young warriors, must be allowed as they discover what is Real and True about the world around them!

Share
posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (4)

4 Responses to “Do You Want to be Right, or Do You Want to be Happy?”

  1. Elizabeth Jones says:

    So well put, Phil. Thank you for the reminder to ask and listen more!

  2. Sharon Kepouros says:

    Great article !!! Thank you

  3. Jeffrey says:

    Great advice and a smart insight. We’re all exhausted playing the omniscient sage, sharing the burden sounds wonderful.
    thank you-

  4. Ruth says:

    Thanks, Phil. Well said. I remember a friend who worked with me at World Bank — a big wig from England. We talked children and his summary was simple: “We must just love our kids. That’s really ALL we can do, and never forget it.”

Place your comment

Please fill your data and comment below.
Name
Email
Website
Your comment