That’s Not Funny . . . Mean Spirited Humor
Laughter is medicine for the soul and has many health benefits. It helps you bond with your daughter. It decreases stress and releases the endorphins that make you feel good. In other words laughter helps you lighten up, enjoy your life and enjoy your relationships.
But it is not true with all laughter. There is a mean spirited humor that has gone viral in our culture, which poisons the soul. It is rampant on cartoons, TV shows, movies, and in our school and it finds a way into our homes.
- It is sarcastic and mocking
- Belittles and makes fun of someone else
- It is mean spirited and is a form of bullying
How Teenage Girls Use Mean Spirited Humor
1. Internet, Facebook, Texting
- Laughing at ugly pictures of ‘friends’
- Pretending to be someone else on Facebook (like a boy) with the intention of humiliating someone
- Saying mean things to people over text and Facebook
- Watching videos on You Tube to mock others
- A group of girls making fun of one girl
- Being a target of mean spirited humor and fighting back with mean spirited humor
- Your daughter tells you ‘funny’ stories that belittle and mock others at school.
- Your daughter attacks you with sarcastic barbs.
How Mothers Use Belittling Humor
You may not intend to be mean spirited but it’s easy to use humor that belittles your daughter and others.
1. The Unintended Barbs
Have you ever been joking around with your daughter and all of a sudden she gets upset with you and runs out of the room? This is because she is highly sensitive. She can be reactive about weight, body image, school, friends and her future because under the surface it really hurts. Sure, she can throw the barbs out but it is another story when they come her way.
2. Sarcastic Barbs
Moms use sarcastic barbs when they are angry or frustrated with their daughters. The sarcastic barbs are used when everything else fails.
For example if you have told your daughter to clean her room a million times you may say something sarcastic like “You are such a pig. Good luck ever finding a man to marry you.”
Sarcastic comments like these will make your daughter mad as a hornet but she will not learn anything from it.
10 Guidelines for Positive Humor
1. Humor should be enjoyable for both of you
You only get the good benefits of laughter when both of you are laughing and enjoying it.
2. Never use humor that belittles another person
This is true even if you think you are being playful especially with your daughter.
3. Make light of yourself
You can make light of yourself. Tell your daughter embarrassing stories and silly things about you. (My daughter loves the story where I sat on a strawberry on a transatlantic flight in my white pants. You can imagine the result of that.)
This is a great thing to model for your daughter. You want your daughter to learn how to take herself lightly instead of taking everything to heart.
4. Laugh at your pets
Thank God for Katie my schnauzer. My daughter and I laugh at her little neurotic personality daily.
5. Avoid the sensitive issues
Don’t joke with your daughter about any sensitive issues that includes anything related to her body, her personality, or behavior. She will blow up and feel like you have turned on her.
6. Teenagers love absurdity
You can get away with a lot when you use absurdity in your humor. Absurdity exaggerates something so far out of reality that it is absurd and it’s not personal. For example if your daughters room is trashed. Saying things like “I wonder how many of God’s creatures live in this room.” This is not about her character, though it is indirectly. It’s absurd that animals live in her room but the comment gets the point across.
7. Laugh at the simple things
Many great laughs come from the simple things in life.
We have a DVD of Jillian Michaels workout. On the cover Jillian is standing there with her ripped abs. Well, for a 2-week stint that DVD would find itself in the weirdest places. It became a competition between my daughter and I who could put the DVD in the most random, hilarious place. Jillian would end up in places like the freezer in front of the ice cream or in the underwear drawer.
8. Never use humor when you or your daughter are angry and in the middle of a drama fest
You can’t use positive humor when you are emotionally flooded. You are at risk for using or receiving biting sarcasm or mocking humor.
9. Your daughters watching you
If you and your daughter laugh and make fun of kids at school; you are giving her permission to do the same. Be conscious of how you use humor. She is watching and listening to how you talk to your friends.
10. Educate your daughter about Positive Humor and Mean Spirited Humor
Your daughter needs to know that belittling another person with humor is not ok even if the other person has done the same thing to her. Help her develop empathy by identifying how it feels when others mock her.
Your daughter needs to be educated on what to do if her friends are making fun of other girls. You can help her by giving her a script of what to say to get out of those situations. Many times girls will go along with the ‘Mean Girls’ and don’t know how not to participate.
If someone says something mean your daughter can…
- Change the conversation
- Say something positive
- Leave the conversation and say she has to go somewhere else
- Tell her close friend that she doesn’t want to make ‘fun’ of other people.
OK I think it’s time for a good laugh!