Dad jokes have become a phenomenon. Everywhere you look, even on billboards, you can find a great one liner (I think so, because I’m a dad!) lurking around to inject humor into a situation. Like, “I’m so good at sleeping, I can do it with my eyes closed!” This week I was reminded that dads using humor provoke a warm spot in a daughter’s heart, a smile of appreciation on mom’s face and a sense of accomplishment in dads soul.
This week, a dad took his daughter’s stuffed animal to work after his kindergartner left it in the car. He began sending texts to his wife about how he had put Sophia the cat to work around the office. Pictures of his daughter’s stuffed cat sending emails, drinking coffee and even looking out the window wondering what little Haley might be doing filled mom’s inbox.
His daughter was so happy she sent her stuffed dog Mocha to work with dad the next day!
Two things strike me as important about Jamie DeSpain’s actions. First, he didn’t take the stuffed cat to school just because it had been left in the car by accident. Love and Logic parents will recognize that forgetting things means doing without them for a day. Parents don’t rush things to the office that get left in the car or on the bar at home. We learn best when the natural consequences of our actions are allowed to teach us life’s lessons while the price tag is low and safe. Since Jamie mentioned, “rather than take the cat to school,” I know he gets it.
More importantly than refusing to return to cat to its rightful owner, dad used humor to make his daughter’s forgetfulness a positive experience. By putting Sophia to work and taking pictures to document these tasks, everyone got a warm laugh acknowledging just how real Sophia is in the family. Even better than dad jokes, dad humor greases the wheels of a range of emotions—affection, appreciation and admiration (to name a few) as well as bonding the family together after an emotional first-day-of-school-experience in Kindergarten.
Dad humor is good when times are tense and the first expectation is a lecture or anger. When the car comes home with a new dent because of a mistake made by a new driver, saying, “I’m going to have to ground that car if I can’t stay away from other cars,” is better than asking, “What did you do to my car?” Disciplining misbehaving cell phones and video controllers works equally well. Even though we realize the offending object really didn’t do anything wrong, a little humor deflects the pain already welling up inside our child’s heart and cushions a consequence with empathy instead of anger.
Humor not only keeps us from double punishing our children for careless mistakes that already hurt, humor draws their hearts close to our own. Taking a strong man pose when our children are trying to exercise helps them realize we notice their effort and see the benefits on the horizon. Humor in situations like this expresses a compliment or reinforces a good choice which helps bond father and son or father and daughter closer together. Of course, it works well between parents, too.
The next time you interact with your child, inject something better than a dad joke; use dad humor to warm their heart, draw them close and put a smile on their mom’s face.