Having a sense of humor when raising kids is an essential tool for any parent. Children can expand your heart and push your buttons like no one else. Being able to laugh at what happens, at your reactions and sometimes at life itself helps ease the journey. Everybody does things they’re proud of as a parent and things that they wish they hadn’t. Having compassion for yourself when you stumble enables you to giggle at your foibles without bombarding yourself with shame. Self-blame or criticism of others often intensifies small incidents into full-blown explosions. Maintaining a sense of humor reduces the chances of a conflagration.
As the parent, you need to set the example for your kids by using a tone that brings humor, boundaries and self-expression to challenging situations. For example, when kids speak to you in a disrespectful tone, you have a choice. You can angrily tell them “You’re not allowed to speak to me that way. Go to your room.” Or, you can say: “Fresh is for vegetables, not speaking to me like that.” The first option throws fuel on the fire; the second one, dampens the flames. If you your teenage son gets into your car, plugs in his phone and listens to rap music that he knows you hate, you could tell him that he’s being selfish and entitled and unplug his phone. Or, you could learn some of the lyrics to his favorite songs and sing along. That will certainly change the dynamic in the car and likely make you both smile. You’re managing your own reaction with humor and not responding negatively. Using self-control and creativity to look at yourself and your reactions differently, you shift conversations and situations away from annoyance or aggravation by injecting some levity. You’re not only modeling this for your kids as an effective coping tool, you’ll feel better and they will too.