Keeping your sense of humor is critical when you’re a parent. It was true when your kid was two and throwing a tantrum over gum in the grocery store checkout, and it’s true now that she’s a teenager.
The thing is, it’s not just key for holding onto your sanity until they leave for college—it’s also a great way to stay connected with them until then. Because it turns out that things that are funny to teens, are pretty funny to parents, too. (At least most of them. I cannot explain the appeal of this.)
Our goal at RAKKOON is to help parents and teens find common ground when it comes to social media. Here are some tips for using your sense of humor to do just that.
Pay a visit to their world.
Explore the world your teen inhabits, and then send your kid proof of your travels: record yourself doing a Dubsmash (it’s free, and pretty easy to figure out—here's ours), pick your favorite YouTube clip and send your teen a link. My kids and I still laugh (together!) about this one.
BTW, this is not the same thing as dressing up in skinny jeans and a 1-D t-shirt. You’re not trying to BE a teen, you’re just trying to connect to one.
Do the unexpected.
Text your teen a selfie (because there is just nothing funnier than forty-year-olds taking selfies), or an silly internet meme. Yes, they’ll roll their eyes and instantly hit ‘delete.’ But for the twenty seconds your text exists it will remind your teen that you’re there, you’re paying attention, and that you’ve got a sense of humor, too. (I'm just going to leave this here.)
Keep yourself in the know.
My 14-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old sister played a joke on their grandmother during a recent visit. They changed the home screen wallpaper on her iPhone to a goofy picture of the two of them. Knowing, of course, that their 73-year-old Grandma would have no idea how to change the wallpaper back—and would thus be walking around with their faces plastered on her phone for all eternity.
So when my husband and I put this picture on our daughter's phones, well... turnabout is fair play. Everyone involved had a good laugh, and as a bonus it sent the message that we know as much about the settings functions of iPhones as they do. Not to mention the fact that while we don't habitually use their passwords to access their phones (instead we use a social media monitoring app), we still need to know their passwords because—we're the parents.
(Settings>Wallpaper>Choose a New Wallpaper>Camera Roll) You're welcome.
Remind your teen that you've been there.
Dredge up a story of your own awful 7th Grade experience and share it with your kid. Make the story as funny as twenty years of perspective will allow. You don't have to say, "...and I turned out just fine in the end." They'll get the picture, and maybe they'll be slightly less surly the next time you ask them what's up with their scowl.
So, go ahead—fight teen snark with parent snark. (I should mention that I'd draw the line at public humiliation—I don’t recommend commenting on your kid’s Instagram feed or posting embarrassing photos of them on Facebook.) And, of course, you have to be prepared for them to mess with you in return. But that’s the point: When it comes to finding ways to connect with your teen, you've gotta look for opportunities in unexpected places.