Parents: Stop Projecting Your Version Of Happiness Onto Your Kids

Your kid isn't you. Get over it.

Parents: Stop Projecting Your Version Of Happiness Onto Your Kids Kamira / Shutterstock

The general picture we have in our heads of the teenage kid who is plugged into his or her phone  who walks into signposts and oncoming traffic  is now apparently the only way we choose to think of kids.

We no longer see kids as the future, not unless we can pin a rotten forecast on to them for ruining life as we know it.

When we talk about "kids these days," we talk about cell phones and video games, and our vote of confidence covers what we're so sure to be a result of them being self-obsessed and unable to cope without a device in their hands. Oh, we clever adults know it all, don't we?


Funny how adults these days forget they were of the generation that brought forth the digital dark age. Our generation is the one with the technical prowess  we delivered the goods, and now it's the kids who are living lives according to what we gave them.

Did we not expect them to indulge in all of our progress? Was it not for them that we created such a brave new world? Why are we so shocked when we see a 15-year-old boy engaged in his own little techno world, and why are we the first to call him a loser?

We built this school  the kids are only attending it.

I've heard more adults put their children down over things like texting and cell phone use than over anything else. It's as if the use of a cell phone is now synonymous with being an idiot; as if we're all born equally as vapid and can now only handle a few text letters and the promise of a dim future of while wondering what a high school GED will do for us if we pass it.


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Let me ask you this: Do you think the kids of today aren't feeling the utter lack of confidence we now have in them?

It's as if they walk into their teenage lives with the built-in disapproval of their parents, the message being: "Here's a phone. Don't do anything with it but call me. If you use it for anything else, you're an idiot with no future. If you text, you might as well forget about getting into college. But here, have a phone."


The problem isn't that we're the ones who equip our kids with these devices because, of course, we're the ones who spend those fortunes buying kids iPads, smartphones, Xboxes and MacBooks; the problem is that we just assume they're all going to hell in a handbasket the second they get their mitts on one.

Humanity has proven over and over again that its number one asset is adaptability.

That means every single generation gets to put down the future generations, only to eat their words somewhere down the line due to the idea that they were proved wrong.

Adults can never foresee a child rising to the top of the wasteland that's assumed to be a lost cause for ambition, truth, talent, or even genius. Why is it never assumed that one of these children may somehow find the cure for cancer by diddling around on their cell phone one day?


The point is, not every kid is a moron. Technology is their field now; it's where they socialize, get info, and share info. And yes, they will use and abuse it and get in trouble and waste some time, but that's not because they're young  that's because they're human.

If we want the future to be shiny and chrome, we've got to start allowing for the idea that kids have an inner-sense of what's right and wrong, just as we do.

Nobody wants to consciously ruin their life and kids aren't on cell phones with a grand scheme of self-destruction. They're on phones because they have phones  because all the kids have phones.

RELATED: When Parents Embrace Social Emotional Learning, Kids Feel The Joy Again


So knowing the history of humankind, with all that we've gotten over and all that we've created, do we suddenly see ourselves becoming extinct because we think kids today are going to take us there? Wow. Now that sounds like a whole lot of responsibility shirking. "They did it! Those dumb kids. Now, in my day ..."

When you love a child, you say to them, "I only want to see you happy." This should never have to translate as, "I only want to see you happy according to what I think happiness is." Happiness is individual and subjective.

If the adults of today don't start waking up to the idea that the old ways are no longer relevant, the youth of today will go completely misunderstood and at some point, they're not even going to care.

This is a changed world. It's not the 90's or even the early 00's. Things have changed.


Adults need to WAKE UP. This is called evolution. What these children are bringing us is the real new wave of humanity on earth.

Why do we assume this will be anything less than dazzling and uplifting? And have we not learned that negative reinforcement is both unhealthy for the human spirit and self-fulfilling?

If your child made their way out of the diaper, they will make their way out of teenage-hood as well, and they might even make their way to greatness ... if we don't slam their world down every opportunity we get.


Do us all a favor and try to think of your teenage child as being built of pure potential, as opposed to constantly sneering down your nose at your kid for not being you. Your kid isn't you.

You're the one doing all the doubting, you're the one pressuring your kid into being someone he's not. Just let him do his thing. 

It's in our nature to adapt and evolve. We need to do this as a species, and as individuals. It's time to accept that our children may actually be the ones to "save the world" from the scenario we've given them.

RELATED: 7 Personality Traits Of Happy Kids (Who Grow Into Successful Adults)

Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an essayist and a journalist, she can be read in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, YourTango, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, More Magazine, XOJane, MyDaily and The Stir. Her art books ‘Beauty’, ‘Antler Velvet’, and 'Mads Mikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor' are all available on Amazon.