I’ve been asked over and over: How do I parent with humor? My standard response is: “I don’t know how you parent with humor. I got my sense of humor back when the kids left.” Naturally, that’s not immediately helpful, but it does give us reason to continue living.
Parenting is probably one of the most difficult things we’ll ever have to do. Never mind the stressors associated with just trying to live your own life. Now we are taking on directing, managing, and being responsible for the outcome of someone else’s life.
This is serious business, and it creates a lot of worry for parents. Simply stated, it means that we must somehow help to create an individual who can stand alone financially, socially, and emotionally. I’m always hearing about how difficult it is to raise a child in today’s world because of the many issues that they are faced with including the many households that are handled by single parents.
These are certainly valid concerns, but I believe they have been exacerbated by an excessive need to parent through the never ending babble of pop psychology. It seems to me that many of the parenting books have made the needs of the child paramount to the needs of the entire family. Creating respect for your needs may be one of the ways you can begin to reduce parental stress, and that in turn actually may loosen you up so you can enjoy your kids a little.
Role-modeling joyful, optimistic behavior is probably one of the best ways to get yourself out of some of your worry habits and to have a happier family. Our everyday conversations and body language are in setting the tone for our children’s behavior.
When you drag yourself out of bed everyday and tell everyone how tired you are, then you yell at your kids to get up, get dressed, and be cheerful while they’re doing it, you’re giving them mixed messages, at best. If you’re hurrying around exclaiming what an awful day you’re going to have, how much you have to do—and they’d better hurry too, you’ve set the tone for tension and conflict before the day’s even begun. If you and your spouse are yelling at each other, another layer of negativity and fear have been added to your kids’ day. And if you put all your worrying onto your kids, they’re going to see things in a pretty negative light. Try to omit words like always, never, everyday to make a point. It simply makes behavior harder to change. Be specific with what you want to change and give solutions. Incorporate some humor which allows children to grow up realizing that being more light-hearted makes life easier. But remember it all starts with you, the parent.
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