I have been a stand up comic for more than 20 years (and no, I am not going to reveal my age), and I’ve found out that my best humor comes from real-life experiences. After all, why write if you can just record your crazy life and tell people about it? But the great thing about humor is that it works well with every avenue of life from the workplace to relationships to the home. A person with a sense of humor doesn’t make jokes out of life, but merely recognizes the ones that are already there.
Life is filled with trials and tribulations that if not handled with the proper attitude can find you knocking at St. Peter’s door without an Invitation. Following are the top ten benefits of humor and how you can apply them to your parenting.
1) Humor is the release valve that can defuse even the most stressful situations. There was once a couple who lost their house to a tornado. Afterward, they placed a sign on the lawn that read, “Gone with the Wind.” Learn to ask yourself: What can be funny about this situation?” And then laugh at it now.
2) Humor allows you to step back and get the right perspective on a problem. The next time your toddler decides to draw a clown face on the wall with your favorite lipstick, you can decide rather than get angry, this could be a YouTube moment. Humor can sidetrack the anger (and maybe even win you some money on America’s Funniest Videos.) The bottom line is that by the time you get the camera you can have a laugh instead of whining about the cost of lipstick, and you can always use it as a good story when your kid grows up and starts dating. If the kid is older (as in, a teenager) well that’s a whole other story. The bottom line is stop and ask yourself, “How awful in the grand scheme of life is this situation really?”
3) Humor can work as a blocking agent against panic. As a parent, guilt and panic seem to be givens. The next time your son falls and you see he is not seriously hurt, joke about it. “Hey, were you trying to sweep up the sidewalk with your knee or what?” If you overreact, they will overact. Children learn what they live.
4) Humor makes bad news easier to swallow. There is a story of a college girl who wrote her parents the following letter: “Dear Mom and Dad. I met a guy and now I’m pregnant. The other day when I was on his motorcycle I fell, but the doctor thinks I’ll be okay and the baby will be fine. The principal wants to throw me out of school, but I’m staging a protest to stop him.” (By this time the parents were panicked.) Then she continues, “Actually none of the above is true, but I did get a D on my math final.” (Now the parents are relieved, and thinking, “Hey, is that all?”)
5) Humor gives you a better outlook on life. Make it a practice to buy funny T-shirts and give them to your kids. Or hang funny calendars, or cut out cartoons and put them on your refrigerator. We actually have that singing fish hanging by our bathroom wall! It makes the home atmosphere that much lighter. (And makes my singing sound a whole lot better — nothing like a dual-purpose fish.)
6) If you use humor, you will be more fun to be around. Face it, would you rather hang around with a mortician or a comedian? Your kids will respond to you better if you are joking with them instead of yelling. Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t discipline them, it just means you will be easier to approach and communicate with as a parent if they don’t think it’s the Spanish Inquisition. And that is what you want, your kids coming to you, not a stranger, to confide in. We play a lot of practical jokes on each other in our house, to this day (my son is now 22 — okay, you can do the math; I was 10 when I had him), but the point is he and I are very close, and we still joke around, and our home is still the place his friends love to hang out at.
7) Humor is an attention getter. When your child hates doing homework, turn it into a game. If he or she does poorly in spelling, play hangman and see who can come up with the silliest word or sentence. (Listen, toy manufacturers make millions on coming up with creative and fun ways kids can learn… it works.)
8) Humor can be an enforcer with a message. Even as an adult, who would you rather listen to, an intelligent speaker who interjects humor or some long-winded monotone monologist with charts out the yin-yang?
And at home, at the dinner table, instead of yelling, “Don’t interrupt me.” Say, “Hey, you’re interfering with my interrupting.” You can also leave silly reminders on your kids’ desk or in lunchboxes, or give funny awards for a job well done.
9) Humor doesn’t cost a penny. Okay, it does if you are hiring a stand up comic, but for general purposes, a little imagination and humor can make a great gift. For example, at Christmas, we used to make funny videos and send them to friends and relatives. Now with the beauty of the Internet you can send email, funny cards, blogs and vlogs. They get a gift and a laugh all in one. (BTW, I have some funny send-ables you can check out that I did for Jib Jab for different holidays.)
10) And finally, humor lowers blood pressure, strengthens the heart muscle, releases endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), and is non-fattening. According to Dr. William Fry, Jr. of Stanford Medical School: “Just 20 seconds of laughter is the cardiovascular equivalent of three minutes of strenuous rowing.” And you thought you had to go to the gym….
Laughter is all around good for us — mentally, physically, and in dealing with our children (and spouses that act like children). The bottom line is humor is like changing a baby’s diapers: It doesn’t permanently solve the problem, but it sure makes things more acceptable for a while.
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Fran Capo is a single mom to her wonderful son, Spencer. Professionally she’s a comedienne, 15-time author, spokesperson, motivational speaker, peak performance consultant coach, TV host of an award winning show called, “Live it Up!”, and five-time world record holder, most known as the Guinness Book of World Records Fastest Talking Female. She lectures worldwide on several topics, including Dare to do it! (Dreams into reality), humor in business speaking and everyday life, and creativity in marketing.
She’s also an adventurer who has eaten fire, climbed Kilimanjaro, gone down to the wreck site of the Titanic, dove with sharks and married twice (Yes, that is an adventure!). She has been seen on more than 350 television shows including Good Morning America, Fox and Friends, Martha Stewart Show, Larry King Live, The Discovery Channel and Nick at Nite. She’s also been heard on more than 3,500 radio shows and puts out a daily humorous motivational tip on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, called, “Cuppa Capo.” For more information go to http://www.francapo.com.