Make Your Kids Miserable for Me

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

As a psychologist who treats adults, I support my family by treating individuals who have chosen not to be happy. So to ensure I have a never-ending supply of patients, I’d like to present the latest installment in my “unhappiness” series: How to ruin your kids’ lives. 

It is my sincere hope that you will follow these simple steps so that your children grow up to need my services. 

  1. Since professionals always tell you that the key to good relationships and success in your endeavors is clear communication, you would do well to hinder it with your children. Don’t ask them to express their emotions or concerns, and don’t listen to them unless you do so to criticize them or to judge them negatively.
  2. Self-esteem is the based in the belief that A) you are able to handle whatever the universe throws your way and B) you are inherently  worthy of being loved unconditionally.  If you feel capable and lovable, you’ll effectively be protected from anxiety and depression since you know you’ll be fine, no matter what the situation. So to impede the development of your children’s positive sense of self-worth, do not acknowledge their talents or strengths and dissuade them from pursuing their passions.
  3. Life is full of challenges, so help your children learn the role of the victim instead of fostering self reliance and resilience. My caseload gets fuller and my wallet fatter if they don’t take responsibility for their actions. It’s so much easier to blame failures on the situation, their friends, their teachers, or you, than it is to learn to problem-solve or find other ways of bouncing back from trials and tribulations. 
  4. A happy, successful parent usually has happy, successful children, but that’s a lot of work, so strive to be a negative role model by managing your stress in unhealthy ways. If you need a reminder, go back to my previous book and review that list: drink, smoke, eat foods high in salt and fat, and don’t exercise. 
  5. Independent, autonomous children take on relevant responsibilities and make age-appropriate decisions, developing confidence and competence, so provide your kids with the lowest amount of support all the while expecting the highest results. Nothing stresses them out better than setting high expectations without providing any scaffolding. 
  6. Force your kids to learn in the most-traditional, least-exciting way and discourage experiential activities. This way no love of learning will be fostered, and their intellectual growth is sure to be stunted if not extinguished. If they ever express curiosity, be sure to quell that quickly. There is no need to support their education inside AND outside of school. 
  7. If you establish clear and consistent boundaries, your kids will be able to navigate boundaries and develop self-discipline. That’s hard work. You won’t have to provide  structure, stability, safety, or security if you prevent them from growing and exploring within the parameters you’ve set. Let them figure it out on their own; they don’t really need you!
  8. An attitude of gratitude is a surefire way to prevent and protect against anxiety.   To ensure that your kids don’t have that protection, teach them to take things for granted and to keep their thanks to themselves. 
  9. Healthy relationships are another mode of improving mood and lowering anxiety, but they take work to build. Trainers and teachers, clergy members and coaches, family and friends of course can be part of your kids’ support network, but encouraging empathy, emotional support, kindness, and cooperation is much harder than simply teaching that some men are, in fact, islands. 
  10. Finally, you know that sense of accomplishment your kids get after completing difficult tasks?  Don’t celebrate it; don’t even acknowledge it. A feeling of pride will just motivate them to continue striving for future success, and that’s not something you’ll want to get behind. Imagine all the work it will take to support them…

Focus on these simple steps, and you can all but guarantee your childrens’ lives will be ruined. You’ll prevent them from feeling fulfilled and happy and becoming healthy and well-adjusted individuals. This will provide an easy way out for you and set them up to be desirable patients. 

Dr. Josh Gonsher is a clinical psychologist licensed in the States and an anxiety specialist in Israel. He finds himself nestled comfortably under the vast umbrella of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but that doesn’t stop him from exploring other modalities. He cherishes the importance of building honest and collaborative relationships with his clients, weaving together interventions from various therapeutic approaches, ensuring transformative change. Dr. Gonsher can be reached at drgonsher at