As a mom, I think a lot about how I want to shape my kids’ world. I know there is only so much I can control (and I am sometimes at odds with this fact) but I do believe that I have a huge influence on the way in which they view themselves, others and their environment. Over the last couple of years, an idea has evolved in my parenting that boils down to this:

It is not my job to always make my children happy; my job is to teach them to find happiness for themselves. (Tweet that!)

In our home, we talk a lot about choosing to be happy. For example, you can choose to sit here and complain about not getting to watch T.V. or you can choose to do something else that you enjoy. The kids are really starting to understand that the first option will perpetuate their grumpiness (which is no fun for anyone). Not to say they aren’t allowed to be upset or frustrated or unhappy, but I won’t be there with a lollipop and a sticker to cheer them up when they have to clean up their toys. Life comes with responsibilities that I want my children to be able to carry out honourably and curve balls that I hope they can duck graciously. If they need a shoulder to cry on, whenever, I am so there. But after the cry, they have a choice: feel better or feel bitter. And the choice they make will determine how the rest of the day goes, and the rest of the week…and quickly those weeks turn into years.

I’m hoping this focus on constructive problem-solving spills over into other areas of their life. We can either complain about a situation in our workplace, or we can come up with creative solutions. We can wish someone else would fix a social problem, or we can be a part of that effort. They are 6 and 4 years old right now, but I don’t think that’s too young to ask of them, “How are you going to fix that?” Right now, that may be a Lego tower that keeps falling but one day that may be a global issue. I want them to know, they have the potential to make a lasting, positive impact.

It is empowering to be the master of one’s own happiness. (Tweet that!) And even though it’s an uphill climb, the effort really pays off. I found that attending the I Can Do It! Vancouver conference 3 years ago was an amazing tool for this part of my parenting journey. My husband and I spent two days in seminars with some of the world’s greatest thought leaders; at each break we excitedly recounted the information we found the most fascinating. And during each discussion we asked each other the question, “How do we teach the kids this stuff?” We both feel that if our children can absorb the importance of creating their own happiness, believing in their abilities, being humble and in awe of the miracles of the Universe and being free of judgment, we could rest easy as parents.

But with kids, you can’t just sit them down for hours on end, lecturing them. They need role models, and my husband and I are primarily ‘it’ for them. That’s why I am committed to attending the I Can Do It! conference every year; it’s like a spiritual boost and I always leave with beautiful stories, scientific research, and a sense of peace. It’s an investment in myself and in my family.

In the end, I realize I don’t have control over my children’s thoughts, or the things that happen to them. This is just my way of hoping for the best – or rather hoping that they can find the best in whatever comes their way.