As the year 2010 draws to a close, I become more seasonally reflective of my family's life in general and of my children's lives more specifically. It is an American tradition to make resolutions, goals, at the onset of each new year and, for me, this year is no different. In fact, perhaps because at the tender age of 4 years old we stand on the cusp of full blown socialization with the rest of the world, i.e., on the threshold of kindergarten, I find my resolutions this year to be more poignant. As all mothers know, it is a bittersweet perspective to watch our children grow, explore, and, at times, get hurt in the process of learning. It seems like just yesterday that they were my precious little peanuts swaddled in baby blankets when my biggest concern was getting them to sleep through the night. But Father Time callously marches along while my babies' childhood falls to the wayside amid the debris of hastily captured photos and videos. Suddenly I am here: now is the time for me to guide them without smothering, to teach them without imposing.
My New Year's resolution for my children for 2011 is deceptively simple. Happiness. What parent does not want this for his/her child? Yet Dr. Fred Luskin, a Senior Consultant in Health Promotion at Stanford University, points out that we have fallen into a "cultural trance" where we equate future success of our children with a model of consumerism, where "economic value placement" supersedes the more intangible yet sociologically proven predictors of happiness: the quality of our relationships, our ability to make a positive contribution to society, and our innate sense of gratitude and appreciation for our current circumstances. We are more inclined to ask about our children's grades in school than their friendships. We already envision our kids pursuing more high income and perhaps more glamorous professions rather than careers that might be more fulfilling befitting each child's personality. And we (myself above all!) find ourselves bemoaning our financial plight, especially in the midst of this recession dictating a frugal holiday season, rather than wallowing in the gratitude of the possessions that we already have.