Do you know children and/or young adults who want to be happy all the time? You probably do, even if they’ve never said that’s what they want.

Is complaining common? Criticizing normal? Do they make decisions and choices related to personal happiness rather than values you thought they prioritized?

The lie, “I deserve to be happy all the time” is one of five I unpack in my new book, Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World. I propose there are nine cultures contributing to their belief that happiness is essential and possible.

It’s not their fault they over-value happiness. Technology has wired their brains for it. I’d be like them if I was their age. So would you.

The culture of easy concerns me. It’s not that I want things to be hard constantly, but when they are, our young people don’t know what to do. Many quit. Some over-depend on others. Some whine. They depend too much on everything being easy.

Needing things to be easy can mean our teens don’t learn how to persevere. They may plateau and not grow because new things scare them. Without learning how to persevere, they may not develop character or hope.

To increase the likelihood that our kids will persevere when something isn’t instantly easy, we can:

  • make sure to evaluate our attitude toward difficulties,
  • not rescue them from all hard experiences,
  • teach them, don’t tell them, how to be successful,
  • encourage them through the process rather than waiting to acknowledge them only when they’re finished,
  • talk about, model, and teach what it means at a very practical level to depend on God for strength and wisdom, and
  • help them understand the rewards of hard work.

Did anything here cause you to think of a time in your life when you didn’t handle it well when something was challenging? Share that with your children. Invite them to share a time in their lives when they didn’t react well to a challenge. Commit together to improve attitudes and actions.