Parenting Vivian | 14 Jun 2011 04:52 pm

Parenting with Humor

Let Laughter Lighten Your Parenting Load The British writer, Chesterton once wrote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” The same sentiment has been echoed in a variety of ways by great thinkers and sages throughout history and I believe this is a major key to healthy parent-child relationships (or to any relationships for that matter).

Today I’d like to share a poem with you, just for fun. It reminds me of how important it is to remember to take life lightly and to see the humor in many of the potentially distressing and frustrating situations that are an integral part of the parenting experience. Parents who have weathered the toilet training stage will be able to relate, I’m sure. It’s called,

I HAVE TO PEE!” “I have to pee!” Four little words That can send any parent into immediate action; Capturing their attention upon contact. I have seen apparently sleeping mothers Leap to attention from prone positions When their toddler uttered those four little words. Unfortunately, I was not so quick to respond. Caught up in the seemingly endless excitement Of traipsing through store after store, Following in the wake of my mother in law, The Mall Queen, I guess I’d just become sort of numb. So in the children’s changing room Of the One hundred and twenty first store We’d entered that day, I guess I just didn’t really pay attention When my 2 year old said, “I have to pee,” “Mommy, I have to pee,” He may have even said it twice.

But did I listen? No, I was wrapped up in the tiresome chore Of finding just the right pair of pants for my four year old~And so we chose to ignore him~Indeed, none of us listened, None of us heard his plaintive plea. Until taking matters into his own hands, My young son produced a new kind of sound ~One that caught our attention… “What’s that sound?” my mother in law queried, “Sounds like water running somewhere.” In a burst of insight I knew what had happened And turned just in time to see the little guy Filling his brother’s shoe with a steady stream of liquid We were taken aback, but for only an instant.Then a smile lit my face, My mother in law dropped her insistence, And we both began to chuckle. Only my four year old Remained a little distraught At the lesson my young son had taught” I guess you’ll need new shoes to go home in,”His grandma reassured him, And then we were all able to laugh ~ a lot. And even today Whenever those four little words Drift my way ~I don’t take them slightly I don’t take them lightly, I sit up and pay strict attention To the young child’s faintest plea ~Indeed, I spring into action At even the tiniest mention Of those four famous words,”I HAVE TO PEE!”

How many times have you thought, “One day I’ll look back on this and laugh… subconsciously implying of course that in the meantime I’m just going to be miserable!” Perhaps our degree of enjoyment and ultimate success in life, our degree of enlightenment, is directly related to how long it takes for us to see the humor in many of our distressing and frustrating situations.

Of course, everything isn’t funny, and there are times when we need to let our children know when they have crossed our boundaries. However, many of our parenting woes and relationship struggles with our children are a result of we as parents just taking ourselves too darn seriously. The race to toilet train our child and make sure we “do it right” can put way too much pressure on ourselves and our children and prevent us from seeing the humor in situations such as the one in the poem. We can become frustrated when our child does not act the way we think he should and begin to think that we are inadequate as parents. It is our own frustration that catapults the situation into one that becomes out of control and damages our relationship with our child.

Even in those situations which may not hold any potential humor, we will still save a lot of energy and heartache when we decide we simply won’t take them personally. It’s always helpful to remember that our kids have their own lives and their own perceptions and quite often their misbehavior is about them and what’s happening for them. It only makes the situation worse if we take it personally when our child is in a bad mood, or going through a bit of a rebellious stage. All teens have moments of intense dislike for their parents. The wise parent will recognize this as an expression of teenage frustration with authority in their lives and a move to develop more independence. The same is true of a two year old. It’s a two year old’s job to say, “No!” When we take their challenge to authority personally, we are less able to deal with it effectively.

So let go of taking everything so personally. That may not be so easy to do in the moment, but I guarantee you that in the long run, it’s much more difficult if you hang onto it. It takes energy and awareness to change the deeply ingrained reactions that most of us experience as we take situations personally and ourselves too seriously. Such reactions damage our health and our relationship with our children. Use the heart breathing technique that I outlined in my last newsletter to help you let go of the draining emotions that are a result of taking situations personally.

Teach yourself to let go, and wherever you can, choose to see the humor in the situation. Next time you have one of those moments when you think, “One day I’ll look back at this and laugh,” try bringing that day closer to you right now. Healthy humor exists at a level that is quite detached from the defensiveness of the ego. We can do ourselves and our family a lot of good by rising above the frustration and turmoil of the moment to see the humor in the situation. And remember, you too will be able to fly when you learn to take yourself more lightly.

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