The Family Therapist is In
Humor Helps!
November, 2004 - Issue #2
After last month's article regarding "What's Happening to Moms," I had the best conversation with a mother of six children - four boys and two girls. She told me that thing that made the biggest difference for her was learning to laugh - at both herself and her children. Her stress level went down and her enjoyment in her family went up when she stopped taking everything so seriously and learned to laugh more. That conversation really got me to thinking about the laughter level in my own household. When was the last time I laughed so hard at something it made me cry?

As parents, we often are so caught up in the stress that comes from trying to taking care of everything that we lose our sense of humor. If we can find the funny side of things we feel more hope - and less anger. When there's humor there isn't room for frustration and stress. A parenting class I teach asks the following three questions. These quandaries are meant to help you find your sense of humor:
1. What if the situation was a comedy on television? What would I do if this were a sitcom? What TV shows best represent my family life?
2. Why am I glad I'm not a perfect parent? Can I relate to my children? Can I laugh about my mistakes? Can I cry about my mistakes? Can I grow?
3. How can I be more playful? Can I relax, act silly, be foolish? Can I be silly with my my spouse, a friend, my child? Do I remember what it feels like to act carefree?

Laughing at ourselves and at our family members when things are tense or tough takes courage. We have to focus on what's immediately happening today and be realistic about what we expect from ourselves and our family.

Finding the positive when you feel negative or stressed takes practice. It's hard to stop and ask: How do I usually see this situation? How do I feel? How does my reaction create problems or add stress? Is there another way for me to view this situation? Can I find some humor in what's happening?

Parents - I encourage all of us to make small changes, not try to be a whole new person; learning to step back from stress or how we usually handle something takes patience and time. Taking a deep breath and finding humor instead of frustration or tears takes practice! We need to take better care of ourselves so we can be there to teach our children to laugh.

Some wonderful tips that parents have shared with me, and now I'm passing on to you: Think about sharing good feelings. Make time for fun and brainstorm with your family to come up with neat things to do together. Talk to each other about problems to help alleviate feeling alone. Think about your own strengths and good qualities.

Moms and dads, I'd love to hear about your own experiences with humor and childrearing. I look forward to hearing response from readers. You can contact me at with comments, suggestions or questions.
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