Friday, October 24, 2014

Humor as a Parenting Tool

One of the biggest struggles of being a parent, at least for me, is that of convincing my kids that all of the hundreds of "inevitabilities" they are taught about are not really inevitable.

I have written, before, about my older son having come home and having said that he learned in school that day that when he becomes a teenager, his hormones are going to make him rebellious. His exact words were, "Did you know that when I become a teenager, I am going to start being mean to you?" It goes to show how careful we have to be about teaching. I, of course, corrected this by asserting that being mean is a choice; he can control how he acts toward me, no matter how powerful nature's pull may be. He was much relieved.

A few months ago, late in the summer, I was talking to another adult and my son (the same one as above) was with me. I mentioned that my son was going into the seventh grade. This person (an educator) immediately countered with: "Uh-oh..." and went on to explain how ("just you wait") seventh graders are so hard to handle and how he was going to change. A while room full of adults agreed, laughing the laughs of the battle-hardened parents. So, in front of him, I said, "Nah. Joe's a good kid. Everything will be just fine."

I was mad, but I didn't show it to either them or to him. When we got outside, I burst in to fake, comic tears. Joe picked up on the routine and patted me comically on the back. "There, there, Dad," he said, in a silly voice. "What's wrong Father?"

"It's all over," I wailed. "You heard what they said. As soon as the school year a few short weeks, you are going to become a monster. We are going to stop being pals. Waaahhhh..."

We both broke into a fit of hysterics over this. When we calmed down, he said, "Well, I guess we ought to do something fun soon, because as soon as school starts, we'll be enemies..."

We laughed again.

Satire is a powerful parenting tool. Most of the way through October, things are still pretty good. No dramatic changes. We laughed at dinner last night; during our bedtime prayers of thankfulness, he expressed his thanks for the "World's Greatest Family." This weekend we are going to do some target shooting with our bows...

I don't see an imminent collapse, despite the wisdom of my elders...

All hail humor, the best weapon against groupthink.


  1. Your son sounds exactly like my landlords' daughter, Elis (13 years of age). I love these posts -- they're adorable, and they remind me that good parents do exist. Again, keep doing what you're doing. Your son is going to grow up to be quite the gentleman I'm sure.