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The Big Myth About Raising ‘Happy’ Kids

That’s not what parenting is about, says Dr. Shefali Tsabary.

Even amid the many different styles of parenting out there, the end goal for every parent is often the same: raise children who are happy. But, according to clinical psychologist and author Dr. Shefali Tsabary, that’s actually not what parenting is about.

As Dr. Shefali explains to Oprah during an interview for OWN’s “SuperSoul Sunday,” it’s a big myth that parenting is about raising a happy child.

“Our children don’t need to become happy,” she says. “Life is not about ‘happy-happy,’ anyway. Life is to be experienced in every nuance as it presents itself in the as-is.” 

In other words, making happiness the end goal for your child is effectively depriving them of experiencing the wide range of senses, events, emotions and learnings that make up a full, rich life.

“As a parent of a child, it is our sacred obligation to not teach our children to run away from life as-is,” Dr. Shefali says. “If they’re crying about rejection from a friend, instead of teaching them to change themselves to fit in, enter the present moment and teach your child rejection is inevitable ― but it has nothing to do with your sense of worth.” 

For Dr. Shefali, it helps to redefine happiness in a way that encourages these teachings. 

“Engagement with life, to me, is ‘happiness,’” she says. “Engage with it fully.”

“SuperSoul Sunday” airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

Another insight about a parent’s role:

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