My name is Patrick McMillan. As a parenting coach, I’ve asked hundreds of parents,“What do you want most for your children?” I would be hard pressed to recall even one mom or dad that did not respond with the word happiness.
I asked this question to myself fifteen years ago after our first son was born, and of course, I also put happiness at the top of the list. But there was a problem…
I had no idea what happiness truly was, let alone how to help my kids discover it.
Like so many kids, even those without a little disfigurement (my ears stuck out), I was bullied at school, called names, beat-up, had my things stolen! But the truth is, I was actually happier at school than at home. Unfortunately, like so many children, I experienced far more abuse and bullying at home from my entire family! The extremely hurtful name calling, the self-esteem crushing comments and the physical abuse eventually escalated to a point that I couldn’t take it any longer, and I finally built up the courage to leave home at fifteen years old.
By far the most painful and unhappy aspect of my childhood was the lack of relationship with my father. It wasn’t about him not being there, because he was certainly around. He worked and came home every day, put a roof over our heads and kept our family fed and clothed; but beyond that, he hurt me more than I had or have ever been.
Now, I know I’m not the first guy out there with so called “daddy issues” that we keep hidden in our deepest selves. I did for most of my adult life. I, like so many other grown-up men and women, allowed myself to be a victim of my father and carried with me a deep fear of one day repeating the cycle if I was to ever become a dad myself.
In fact, I was convinced I would likely repeat the cycle of abuse and lack of love I experienced from my father, especially when I discovered there was clearly a “transgenerational pattern” of abuse. I found out my father was also badly abused by his step-father, kicked out of his home, and forced to live on his own from the age of thirteen.
I successfully avoided getting married until I was thirty years old and my beautiful wife was twenty-two. When the reality hit me that I would have to face my deepest fear head-on, I knew I needed to make serious changes in my beliefs. For the first five years of my marriage, I would cry alone after a discussion with my wife about starting a family, because I kept it all a secret from her, too. I had to change something, and I needed help! There was no way I could do this on my own; the scars were too deep, and I didn’t even know where to start. But I HAD TO! My future children’s happiness depended on it.
I finally broke my secrecy and told my wife about my fears stemming from my relationship with my father. That was the first step in what I can only describe as an emotional miracle. I attended seminars, read piles of books, watched video after video; but by far the biggest benefit came when I hired a coach! We worked together for almost nine months, which ironically ended almost to the day when I heard those words from my wife…
Both my wife and I were astonished at my reaction! In fact, she later told me she was scared to tell me at first, but a feeling of joy like I had never felt before in my entire life came flooding over me. With tears of pure happiness in my eyes, we hugged, and I told her, “I will be the best father I know I can be for our children.”
When our first son entered our lives in 1998, my whole world changed. Then, when he was just a year and a half old, I was blessed beyond words. My wife asked me if I would be interested in being a stay-at-home dad. Before I had time to even process the question, I said YES!!
His little brother arrived three years later and when he was a year and a half I resumed my full-time role as the stay-at-home dad for seven more years. During my time at home, while our kids were at school I studied emotional development and the “science of happiness.” I felt compelled to teach my children all I came to know about it. I put together a small workbook we could work on together at home, and the effect this had on our kids became noticeable by their teachers. Soon, I was asked, “What are you teaching them?” and, “Can you teach all our students?”
Well, to make this long story shorter, An Exercise in Happiness© for children was published in 2008 to help all kids, along with their moms and dads, discover their true source of lasting happiness.
Our oldest child is now almost fifteen, his brother is eleven, and I’m fifty. Today! Not only am I happier than I ever imagined I would be, but BOTH of our children are, too! I discovered that when it comes to wanting happiness for my children, I must first be who I wish to see in them.
For the past six years, I’ve helped parents and kids around the world as a personal “happiness” coach and my life couldn’t be richer or more rewarding.
Our world really can become a happier and more joyful place if we all discover and embrace our happiness and teach our children to do the same.
If you can identify with any aspect of my story and find yourself as I once did– stuck, worried and not knowing where to start or even who to ask for help– please feel free to contact me personally at PowerfulHappiness@gmail.com. As my gift to you and your kids, I will reply with an attached (PDF) copy of An Exercise in Happiness ©.