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Christian Living

Family

Laughing: How Humor Can Make You a Better Parent

Lisa Pennington - Contributing Writer

When parenting seems to be just too much to handle, laughter can be a powerful tool to getting through it with grace. For me, there was one day in particular that really taught me this lesson.

On that day, a crash jolted my ears awake before my eyes could catch up. From the other side of my bedroom door sounds were letting me know I had slept too long and was running late already. I didn't want to open my eyes, but the commotion got my attention.

I slid out of bed, dragged myself toward the door and opened it. I paused in the portal between my haven of rest and the reality of motherhood and wondered, "Will I be able to enjoy my kids today?"

Some mornings we have to dig deep and find joy even before the day officially begins. On this day, I had to channel my internal cheerleader. Just a simple, "Go Mom Go!" No mental herkies. This mama would hurt herself trying to jump and do splits, even if they were only in my mind. God says a cheerful heart is good medicine, so I was gonna prescribe myself a big dose before I went on down the hall.

I boldly stepped forward, rounded the corner and there it was...my 8-year-old son lying on the couch in his pajamas playing with an iPod and another child begging his brother through the bathroom door to hurry up. The living room, which had been clean when I went to bed at 11:00 the night before, was a mess of blankets, stuffed animals and, for some unknown reason, random shoes.

My cheerfulness fell. It had lasted about as long as my regular Monday morning diet plan. This was my moment. I could sink or swim, do or die, laugh or cry.

It was a no-brainer. I chose to laugh.

Look at Sarah. At the age of 91, she gave birth for the first time. I mean, Whoa! She says in Genesis 21:6, "'God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.'" Then she goes on to state the obvious, who would have thought she would ever nurse a child?!

When we are faced with a trying situation, it's up to us how we view the scene in front of us. We can freak out and get irritated, or we can see what God sees. Joy.

On this particular morning, I scanned the living room and spotted a pile of pillow pets on the floor and the sheer ridiculousness of how many of them we own struck me as funny. I mean, why does anyone need 11 pillow pets?! How does that even happen? Those things are like rabbits.

And that crashing noise I heard earlier was the bathroom door banging into the towel bar as one boy tried to block his brother in a race for the bathroom.

So, I started to giggle. The pillow pets, the messy living room, the two boys competing for the same bathroom, all got me tickled, which led to laughter until I was regretting not stopping to use the bathroom myself. As soon as I looked at my life as a sitcom instead of a drama, my mood changed.

And like Patti LaBelle sings, I got a new attitude. Yes, I would need to plan better for tomorrow and work with the kids, but I didn't have to be irritated over it.

Is your child having a tantrum in the grocery store because you won't let her eat the crackers? She is having a fit over a cracker! It's ridiculous. Does your teen get mad because, once again, you tell him he can't have his own phone? It's just funny when someone thinks getting angry is a way to convince you to change your mind. Their cleverness is kind of adorable actually. If you view it through the lens of a positive attitude, things seem to lighten up a bit.

The medicine of laughter is not only healing, but brings relief to a tense situation. If, when I feel my irritation rise up from the inside, I will stop for a second to look for one thing, ONE THING, to laugh about, it diffuses the intensity of my emotions.

I want my kids to remember a mom who enjoyed life and her children. If I can show them how to laugh when I'm having a hard moment, I am giving them a powerful tool to carry into their lives.

"He will fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting." Job 8:21

This is not about laughing AT your kids, but finding humor in the circumstance. No one enjoys being laughed at; and we don't want to disrespect their feelings. Just enjoy the craziness of being a parent and how much fun it is to watch them grow. You'll be a better mom just because you're smiling more.

The rest of that day continued to be less than ideal. But because I looked for the funny, I felt gratitude. That night as I stumbled back through the doorway of my bedroom, exhausted and ready to collapse, I had sweet memories of time with my family and felt victorious instead of defeated.

I was thankful because while my kids don't have a perfect mom, they have a happy one.

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