Sarcasm: It Is What You Say AND How You Say It

Many of us have long used sarcasm as part of our daily interactions, but as life changes it may be necessary to make changes in our interactions as well.  Children don’t grasp sarcasm at a young age, so we need to be careful how we use sarcasm when our children are around.

A few months back, as our oldest began speaking more, I started to recognize how she reacted to our use of sarcasm.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I keep finding myself thinking about it now.  Mikaela often asks, “Are you home?” when we get home from work, and at times she’s been given “No” as a response.  Obviously we are home when we say no, but we give her a sarcastic response to her seemingly obvious question.  Sarcasm had become a habit in our lives that now needs to change.

Sarcasm – A sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.

Is that really how I want to talk to my child?  Is that how I want my child to hear me talk to anyone?

I never looked at sarcasm as something overtly negative.  I rarely used sarcasm to cut anyone down, but now as I look back on it I see the negative power it has.  I don’t want my daughters to see me as a man of negativity.  I don’t want to be the dad that tears down.  I want to build them up.  I never want to tear them down.

My use of sarcasm just came naturally, so it took a concerted effort to remove it from my standard dialogue.  I won’t lie and say that I’ve been sarcasm-free for x days, but I will say that I am trying.  I do still use sarcasm at times, but very rarely, if at all, around my girls.  I hope that one day soon I can say that I’ve removed sarcasm from my daily dialogue, but I know that work will take time.

We all need to have a filter between our planned words and the time the words propel off our tongues, but now I see that filter needs an extra layer.  Children only see the literal meaning of what they are told and they easily miss the accompanying facial expressions or tone; that’s why we need to not only focus on what we’re saying, but how we’re saying it.

A researcher at the University of Manitoba, Melanie Glenwright, has been studying how children at various ages react to sarcasm.  She used puppets to gauge the children’s attentiveness.  Glenwright’s research shows that children became able to detect sarcasm at age 6, but it took until age 10 for the children to understand the intention behind it.

Now that I’ve seen this research, now that I’ve seen how my daughter reacts to sarcasm used around her, I know I need to cut it from my life.  I don’t want my words to cut or give pain.  I want to encourage.  I don’t want to allow for misunderstandings.  I want to give clarity.

My daughters and my wife deserve the best from me.  That means when I’m with them, when I’m at work, and even when I’m alone I need to consistently strive to be the best version of me that I can be.  I will fall, I will fail, but I am still doing right by them as long as I get back up and continue striving.


Considering a Career Change? Time for Pros/Cons List

I’ve been in my field since 2003, and last year I completed my Bachelor’s degree in a completely different field.  I’ve since had an ongoing debate within about whether it is time for me to make a career change.

The idea of leaving what I’ve known, what I’ve excelled at, to try something new is a bit frightening.  I generally have confidence in what I do, but this change would be major.  I have to be sure of what I’m doing, because it affects much more than just me.  My wife and daughters are just as affected—if not more so.

Through this inner debating I’ve realized I needed to put together a pros and cons list about the prospect of leaving.  Then, if I decide it’s worth it and safe to change careers I can create separate pro/con lists for any jobs I apply for or, if I’m lucky, am offered.

You Can’t Just Sit Down Once

Starting with the overall change list is something that I now realize takes time.  I thought I could just sit down and hammer it out in one attempt, but there are things I overlooked.  Just this past weekend realized that one perk of my current job that I had previously overlooked is that my daughters have free and easy access to nature.

For those that don’t know me beyond the words I put on your screen, I work as the Assistant Superintendent of a golf course.  On Saturday I took my oldest with me as I went to work to check on a possible issue.  We drove around the course in my John Deere Gator and she loved it!  She kept pointing out things she saw (flowers, squirrels, balls, etc.) and we would drive down a slope she’d yell out, “Weeeeee!”  I knew I enjoyed my ability to work outdoors, but I had overlooked the value my outdoor job has for my little ones.

When I originally made my list I thought of things like expected salaries, health insurance and the potential lapse in health insurance, weekly hours, type of shifts required, the distance to work, and my fear versus comfort level.  I realize now that I need to go beyond those obvious factors; I need to consider the abstract.

I have my list ready to go, but I keep discovering new items to add to the list.  Now, I do have a good idea of what I would need from a different job to make leaving my current job acceptable.  It will likely be tough to get all of what I feel I need, so in the meantime I have learned to find new ways to enjoy my current job.

 No Change in Sight?

It may be beneficial to make this pro/con list even if you aren’t considering a career change now.  You may meet someone who offers you a job, you may be part of corporate downsizing, or you may simply start having some bad days on the job.  If you have this list completed and available for review, then you’ll be better prepared for the next steps.  Preparation is crucial when it comes to your future, your family’s future, and the security of your children.

Mother’s Day and the Need for an Extension

This Sunday is the day we honor those that give birth, breath, and life to the children of this world.  We recognize their struggles, we celebrate their wisdom, and we take them to brunch.

Most of us realize that the role of mother, though filled with perks, is loaded with hardship and therefore is the hardest career any human can have.  We are reminded by our calendars and our phones to annually recognize mother’s with a hearty “Happy Mother’s Day”, yet what are we to do the other 364 (365 in a leap year) days of the year?

We have no reminders on glossy paper or on-screen, so what do we do when it isn’t the calendar-marked Mother’s Day?

We must still honor, respect, encourage, celebrate, love, and cherish the mothers of our world.  Tell them—your wife, your mother, your whomever—that you value them.  Show them they matter to you.

Husbands, Read Here

Husbands, take some time today to make a list of ways that your wife has blown you away as a mother; list how she has shown you her value as a mother to your children.  Don’t stop writing until you run out of ink or battery life or stone tablets.  This list should not be a simple Top 5, so put some effort into it.  Once you have this list, keep it!  Hold onto it and remember her greatness each day.  Better yet, share one item a day with her to show her you care.  Show her you see what she does.  Make her feel your appreciation.

The Parenting Partnership: For Couples and Singles

Next week is Mother’s Day, so if you haven’t already you are about to be inundated with articles, blogs, status updates, commercials, and who knows what else that will talk about Mother’s Day.  My blog for today will not be talking about Mother’s Day, but I assure you next weekend I will join the crowd that shouts about Mother’s Day from the highest of heights.

For today I want to explore the idea of parenting as a team.  No parent is an island; therefore, each should always be working with someone, or multiple someones, to get through the roller coaster that is parenting.  Those of us that have a partner, spouse, mate to share the load with should count ourselves lucky.  We have someone we can turn to that understands what is happening in our house and in our life.  Single parents don’t have the same luxury we do, but there are ways to find help and support no matter what your situation.

Parenting with a Mate

The most important thing to remember is that there is no fix-all scenario that will fit every set of parents.  I have simply put together a list of ideas that I feel can greatly assist in creating a successful parenting partnership.

  1. Share the load in a way that works for everyone.  You know your schedule, you know your strengths, so you determine what split works for you.  Even a stay-at-home parent needs something other than chores or errands in his/her life.
  2. List all tasks and divvy them fairly.  This continues the previous idea, but it can’t be restated enough.  No one parent should be entirely responsible for all tasks, but it’s important to balance the load by taking available time and strengths into consideration.
  3. Help each other find balance.  We each have various levels of work, family, chores, alone time, and other items that we need in our life.  Work together to find a way to separate what needs to be done in a way that doesn’t drain or overwhelm.

Single Parents are Amazing

The work of a single parent is never-ending, so it is very easy to get discouraged or run down.  Single parents are often forced to take on all of the parental responsibilities and work responsibilities that are shared by parenting couples.  That’s a ton of work, yet they do it because they love their children.  I am not a single parent, so I can only extrapolate their life based on the times I’ve had alone with my girls.  So based on my lack of knowledge and from past discussions with friends I have just a couple of tips for single parents:

  1. Find someone to lean on.  You may not have someone to divvy tasks with, but it’s extremely important that you have an ear, a shoulder, and a hand at the ready when you need it.  Friends and family may not be overtly telling you to call them, but there is likely someone willing to help.
  2. Join a Moms/Dads/Single Parents/Parents Group.  These groups allow you to come together to celebrate and commiserate with other people in similar situations.  You are not alone in this.  I know that some cities, libraries, and churches have these types of groups available, but I’m sure they are in other places as well.

Try, Try Again

Remember that not everything will work for everyone, and even if it is going to work it may fail at first.  Don’t give up on finding balance simply because it’s hard work.  Parenting is not likely to be easy.  We need to put forth the effort to better mold our children.  A balanced partnership will lead to a better life for you, your partner, your children, and all those around you.  So prepare for some hard work and get yourself some balance.

“Helping Hands”: Kids and Yardwork

The blankets of snow have rolled back, and for those of us with property we get to start doing yard work again.  We had our annual respite (too long for some), so now we can see the leftover leaves, the need for color, and the many other projects left by Winter.

Now for those of us with young children we have to figure out how to get it all done during nap time or find a way to do it with your child(ren) by your side.  If your projects are small enough and your kids nap is long enough, then you’ll be fine.

However, if your project list can’t be contained by a single legal pad and your kids don’t seem to enjoy the glory of a nap for long enough—or at the right time—then you’ll need to plan on having extra “helping hands” in the yard.

The first thing to know is that your project’s timetable must expand.  No matter how old your helper may be they will slow you down.  So plan on spending more time, even extra days, on projects that may have once been quick and easy.

Last week I was starting to move some rocks and prep an area for a flower garden.  Mikaela, our 28-month-old, wanted to help.  I lucked out on this one as the only extra time I spent was in thinking of something for her to do, so that she was “helping” but still out of the way.  While I was thinking she began to pick up some lava rocks and asked, “I move these too?”  Bingo!  She had a task that she wanted to do, and it would be helpful while being unobtrusive.

The next thing to account for is your attention.  The “helping hands” may wander away or do something that sets back your progress, so you need an eye on your helper at all times.  Multitasking is a parental skill we all need, but this will test you and hopefully sharpen you for the future.

The other component of your attention to consider is how much of it you want to give to your child:  Will you keep an eye on her?  Will you hold her hand while she does what you’ve shown her?  Will you work side-by-side and talk?  Will you teach?  These aren’t all of your options, but knowing what you want to do ahead of time will definitely save you some stress.

Plan ahead and you will not only reduce stress, but you’ll complete your project while having quality time with your child(ren).