Note of caution: it’s never appropriate to make fun of a child. The purpose of this article is to help a parents’ ease stress by finding humor in their situation, private humor–never to be shared with the child or anyone else who will share it with the child.
Things can only go downhill so far until you lose it. Troubles build, going from bad to horrible, and then your child says something so bizarre or silly, and even though it may be politically incorrect, and even though it may seem sick or hurtful or embarrassing, there is absolutely nothing left to do but laugh (not in front of the child).
“That boy gave me so much trouble, then one day he said to me, “Mom, why is it always about you?” !
–Mother of an 18-year-old son with mild schizophrenia
“Normal,” a setting on a washing machine.
“… as high as 94 percent of people deem lightheartedness as a necessary factor in dealing with difficulties associated with stressful life events.”
–David Rosen, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Texas A & M University
We child-proofed our home, but they still got in.
You have permission to laugh at all the crazy, zany, exasperating, nonsensical, and nutball things your child does or says, just never in their presence… or in anyone’s presence who doesn’t understand. It doesn’t mean you don’t love or care your child, but humor really helps your own mental health. In the support groups I facilitate, a parent will occasionally share a funny story about their troubled child and the room roars with laughter.
True story – A 15-year-old girl had professed suicidal thoughts for so long that no one could remember a time when tragedy wasn’t looming. They had locked up every potentially dangerous item, but the terrified parents were never certain they could keep her safe from herself. Removing the knives and rope was obvious. But household cleaners? What weapon of self-harm would be next? Daily life became a quest to guess what else she could use to kill herself, then to hide it. But her mother realized one day that her picky daughter would never ingest chemicals; they tasted too bad.
You can’t scare me, I have teenagers!
True story – The 20-year-old schizophrenic son angrily obsessed that his mother spoke with his school counselor when he was 11. He railed that this invasion of privacy was wrong, immoral, hurtful, illegal, unethical, and stupid, and every other sin he could think of. Mom had long learned to just let him vent, but one day she became exasperated and said, “That was nine years ago! I apologized a hundred times. What more do you want?” The son stopped for a moment, confused, and said, “I don’t believe you. Did you erase my memory again?”
True story – The 16-year-old daughter had ADHD and bipolar disorder. She had grandiose plans to become a famous person and lead an “epic” life. She was immensely proud of having an ‘exciting’ disorder that gave her ‘permission’ to be crazy. Once she made an unsuccessful attempt to lose weight, explaining, “I tried anorexia but didn’t have the discipline.”
The main purpose of holding children’s parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own… or maybe not.
True story – The mother of a violent 10-year-old daughter said “I just bought a gallon of spackle on sale, which is great. Spackle is my friend!” Another mother with a violent 16-year-old son agreed. She said she’d become skilled at repairing and texturing dry wall after all the damage he’d done. Both moms brainstormed starting a company to repair homes battered by troubled children. “It would help the parents, and we could offer support too… and not judge!”
True story – Several parents at a support group were sharing their frustration from hearing friends talk proudly about their wonderful children, and the fun things they did together. Each parent had similar experiences, and each felt embarrassed, ashamed, left out. One mom finally blurted, “Those stupid happy families, I hate them!”
Do you have a funny story or quote to share about your child? Please add it in the comments section–you’ll lift another parent’s day.