Gosh, do you ever feel drained trying to be a stand up parent all the time?
A few weeks ago, I was feeling really down about my parenting.
Our son was starting daycare soon, and I wanted to make the most of my last few long weekdays alone with him.
But I was tired, and he wasn’t in the mood to nap. So, instead of doing anything fun with him, I was sitting in a mess of toys feeling guilty.
My husband called to let us know he’d be working a bit late, and I unloaded my disappointment in myself.
Read him a book, and do something that makes him laugh.
My husband doesn’t read many parenting books, but he’s got wonderful parenting instincts. His two-minute action plan for me (!) was based on a parenting principle that applies to so many situations.
I’ve seen the same principle spelled out in Dr. Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids. This book is a gold mine — it’s on Sumitha’s list of The Only 4 Books You Need to Become a Great Parent. You should read the whole thing, in your copious spare time. 🙂
But today I want to focus on one lesson from Dr. Markham that really surprised me when I first read it: You and your child can conquer negative emotions using laughter; not just distracting yourselves in the moment, but using the benefits of laughter to heal and grow your mind and heart.
We all know a little about this. When my son is fussing about a diaper change, I can almost always get him grinning again with a big raspberry to the belly.
Laughter can defuse a tense situation, like the dreaded diaper change, and it can distract you from your troubles; I’ve been known to binge-watch TV sitcoms when I’m down.
This isn’t a new insight, of course. People have been writing about it for hundreds of years, long before we could describe it in biochemical terms. Seven hundred years ago, in 1413, the Catholic mystic Julian of Norwich wrote extensively about the benefits of laughter. In 1530, Martin Luther wrote to his friend Jerome Weller with practical advice for times of serious spiritual upset:
Whenever the devil harasses you, seek the company of men or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing.
So today, let’s take a bit of a step back from how to become fine parents and simply take a look at a few of the scientifically proven benefits of laughter that every parent can take advantage of – [Read more…]