Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Happiness Factor -- A Life Lesson


"The Happiness Factor" is my personal phrase for a number, or factor, on the gauge of happiness, contentment, cheerfulness in my house.

It's a number that I feel reflects how everyone in the house is feeling about life, each other, their homework, what's for dinner, you name it. Anything that can make the members of my family gleeful or miserable affects that number.

The gauge measures any number from infinity to infinity -- remember that number line you learned about in, say, fifth grade -- where zero (or neutral in this case) is in the middle and the numbers go in both directions out from zero?

What I have learned in my years as a mama, and most markedly in my recent "teenage parenting years," is that the math rule "a positive times a negative is a negative" is true for the Happiness Factor as well.

When one member of the household is unhappy, dissatisfied, grumpy, their mood most definitely affects those around him and eventually a mama can end up with lots of unhappy, dissatisfied, grumpy. I have said before that Newton's Law of Physics exists in household (For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), and in a similar way, so does this rule of math.

For the past few weeks we have been experiencing a negative Happiness Factor in our house. You see, unlike in math, where two negatives make a positive, or two negatives and one positive, or any number of positives make a positive, in the household, one or any number of negatives makes the Happiness Factor a negative number.

Teens, I have sadly learned, are often very negative people. They can be positive, and in fact can have very high positive measurements, but in the blink of an eye, they can turn into very low negative numbers (the negative numbers in other areas of their lives greatly influence their own measurements). They often stay in those low numbers for quite a long time, and usually their low numbers are lower than their high numbers.

My mother's heart has been very affected lately by the Happiness Factor because The Happiness Factor has recently (and annoyingly) been accompanied by many other indoctrination-related activities like The Debate Team. The Debate Team plus the Happiness Factor can make a mama pull her hair out, cry herself to sleep, lose her mind. Seriously. If our country used its resources to the greatest advantage all teenagers would be trial lawyers. They can argue the dumbest point to the point that no one even knows what the argument was originally about. They often win those arguments by virtue of sheer exhaustion on the part of their opponent.

If you have children, especially young children, I suggest that you prepare yourself for the years ahead. No one told me of these things, or if they did I shook my head mockingly and dismissed it as poor parenting. I tell you now, even the best of parents (of which I admit I am not) is no match for these teenage years. This is guerilla warfare, I say. All bets are off and all rules are null.

The only answer is prayer -- down on your knees, mama.



  1. My oldest son is turning 15 this Jan. So far he is a mellow kid. Still watches cartoons with sibs on sat. morn.

    I think I will be a worrywart when he goes off to college....or when he brings home a date. oh my. I want time to stand still.

    hang in there praying mama!

  2. "DITTO!" is all I have to yell. :)

  3. Oh, can't I just keep my kiddos little? Little kiddos, Little problems...right?

    I'm already on my knees!!

    I'll add some extras for you!

  4. Of late (my daughter just turned 14), I've been wishing for a 'do-over', so I could fix all the things I did wrong and all the things I either did or didn't say. I regret not knowing so many things that I am only just now knowing. However, God gave these kids to ME, and I have to accept that responsibility and to prayerfully do my best. But yes, it's so hard.

  5. well, crud. I'm just going to move out for a couple years.

  6. Mine's only 13 and don't I know about the Negative Factor. Hang in there--you've got a friend in us!

    (We call him Edward when he starts to brood b/c his cheeks suck in just like that Twilight guy.)

  7. Ah yes!! Remember those years so very well. Four teenage boys (My hubby called them "house apes with an attitude".. And yes, all mama could do most of the time was pray. Why do you think I've had bi-lateral knee replacements?? ss

  8. hahaha..."house apes with an attitude"...perfect description!! hahahaha

  9. Hmmm. I thought I was going to get a break after baby and toddler years. Now, you're telling me it gets worse? My oldest is 11 and already exhibiting teenage moods. I am not looking forward to this!

  10. Thank you for the warning! I do believe you because 8.5 years ago I thought colic was bad parenting.

  11. Christine,
    My 18 yo was mellow, and still is sometimes. He changed a lot more than I thought he ever would, however. I am hoping it will be a shorter period for him because he started late.

    I knew you'd understand. ;-)

    Yes -- little people little problems. They seem big when they are little, but they are oh-so-manageable. If you figure out a way to keep them little, let me know!

    A do-over would be great. Each child is so different and challenging in a different way, so you can't learn as you go!

    That's the best idea I've ever heard!

    Oh Margaret,
    I know your time is coming! I'll pray for you if you'll pray for me.

    I give you permission to sit while you pray for mine!

    I'll let you in on a little secret -- ss is my husband's mother and one of those house apes is my husband!

    I hate to tell you but toddlers are cupcakes next to teenagers. And mine really aren't half bad!

    Jody, You are welcome. Hopefully that colic baby will be easier as a teen, but really, no promises from me!

  12. And now I'm laughing all over again!!!!! I remember my then boyfriend (now husband) once pulling out a dictionary to prove his parents wrong. I like to just blame it on hormones...and Eve of course! :) Hugs and prayers.

  13. ROFL about the "house apes!" I'm on teen #2 right here, and it really is true that teen girls are worse than teen boys--or maybe it is just THIS girl. And I know that compared to some, this girl is easy since her "B.S.-o-meter" is set on "Do not tolerate" so there is not a lot of drama from friends that she is willing to put up with.

    OK, who's with me--when our teens are at their worst, let's all send up a quick prayer for all parents of teens who are dealing with all that same stuff!

  14. I'm so with you, Barb!
    My youngest turns 13 next Thursday so my house will hold three teens. YIKES!
    They are pretty good kids, but some times quite surly, moody, and pains in the rump!

  15. Guerrilla warfare is right, and I'm all out of ammunition! I could use a spiritual burst when they bring out the bombshells of negativity.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!