There is another common parental utterance that also often hits me as fingernails-on-a-chalkboard. The setting usually finds me in conference with a student and his parents. Let’s say we are discussing ways that Johnny might show improvement either academically or behaviorally. (Note: More often than not, the two are closely connected!) For me, the irksome moment occurs when one parent turns to Johnny and sincerely says, “Honey, I hope you know that my only hope is for you to be happy.”
Resisting the urge to wince, I then explore that parent’s willingness to put that sentiment on hold for a bit in order for their child to do some “unhappy” things for a while in the hope that we can all work our way toward some happiness for all a little further on down the road. All the while, I know it’s a tall order, especially if the parent’s eyes lock with those of their child. After all, those eyes want unhappy things about as much as…..well….. a root canal.
Hey, we all want to be happy, but maybe George Orwell had it right: “Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.”
Onward, Malcolm Gauld