24. Laugh with your children. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov 17:22). One of the ways to keep a joyful heart in your home is to look for joy in the journey, not just in reaching the destination. Yes, there is satisfaction in reaching the destination, in achieving our goals. But we also need to learn to be of good cheer along the way.
Laughter really is good medicine. Being able to laugh together is a great way to lift the mood at your house. One of the important distinctions to making laughter an affirming action in your home is to recognize the balance between laughing at ourselves and our situations while not laughing at other’s shortcomings or embarrassments.
Our children understood how to treat people’s challenges with compassion. As a result, our laughter was never directed at other’s mistakes, foolish words, or physical features. We reserved our laughter for funny situations that did not embarrass or belittle others. We laughed out of joy and good cheer, not over the cleverness of a smart insult. We tried to keep our laughter Mr. Rogers approved. That’s a laughter you can feel good about!
We all have been gifted by God with various personality types. Some of us are naturally more serious than others. If you are a serious adult, it may take an extra effort to laugh with your kids. For example, a mom shared with us how over time she realized that when she is thinking intently her face just naturally goes to a frown, something she has no control over. But her children assumed this thinking expression meant Mom was angry. Two things improved the situation. Her kids needed to give Mom some grace and accept her thinking look for what it was, a thoughtful expression, not a communication of anger. And Mom, for her part, needed to work on putting on an affirming expression during her thoughtful conversations with her kids. An affirming kiss on the forehead also helps which we will talk about next time.