Teaching Laughter and Joy

There are a lot of things I want to teach my kids: obedience, respect, service, perseverance, humility, patience, kindness, self-control....the list goes on and on. God has given me these little wonders to love them, teach them and guide them, discipline them, and provide for them. But lately, there's been another added to the list. 

Laugh with them. Teach them joy.

But how do I teach/model laughter and joy for my children? Not just joy in adversity. But joy just for the sake of joy. Just for the sake of fun. Embracing the moment, playing a joke, wrestling on the floor. I can't find a chapter on this in any of my mothering books (suggestions please, if you know one).

Our summer days in the swimming pool have especially brought this to light. 

How can you put on goggles and not want to laugh? There's something about the water that is not only weight-lifting, but mood-lifting. Maybe it's because it takes me back to my own childhood.

This summer, I've found myself playing Marco Polo; pretending to be a shark and swimming around the pool eating and tickling children; showing them how to do karate-chop jumps into the water; canon-balling with my laughing 2-year-old into the deep end, choreographing synchronized-swimming routines. 

After splashing and laughing in the water with my kids, I find myself refreshed. Not just because it's hot. But because I laughed with my kids. I feel more ready to face the evening ahead. Ready to continue in the trenches of motherhood. Laughter is good medicine, especially for a weary mama.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Prov. 17:22 (ESV)

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  Psalms 126:2 (ESV)

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Job 8:21 (ESV)

I always seem to have an excuse not to embrace moments joy. Maybe it's because I don't really have a clear answer on how to do it. But I know it's one of those things they'll learn by watching me. Still, I'm up to elbows in diapers, laundry, dishes, meal preparation, errands, parenting....I just want a moment to myself to recharge. But what I've discovered is that I can "recharge in a moment" by just laughing with my kids. I stop taking myself so seriously. I relish in the moment with my kids. 

Now that's not to say I become a circus clown and let everything be a joke and take anything seriously as a mom. But there's gotta be a balance right? I want my kids to not only say, "I have a great mama who loves me," but also " I have fun with my mama."

Okay, so this post definitely falls in the "I-don't-know-much-about-this-but-want-to learn-how" category. Please pipe in and tell me: How do you laugh with your kids? How do teach joy? Examples, stories?


  1. This summer has been along the same vein for me, the pool has been really fun this year! My third child (who is 2) has been showing me how to have fun. Her favorite thing is to run up to me at random times and yell "BACK!"... loosely translated, she wants to ride on my back and sneak up on her 4 year old brother and scare him :) Thanks for your post, with all the heavy responsibilities we have as Mom, this is something exciting to strive for.

  2. Yes, laughter is good! My goal is to show my kids that we can choose joy even when those around us are crabby, and that laughter really is contagious. My kids are a little older, and we have great times making up silly puns or laughing at 'inside jokes'. This shared-joy makes us family.

  3. Exactly! I completely relate. There is something about swimming - maybe because I can't take the phone or computer in with me :) We play 'Blind Mans Bluff'. We giggle and laugh and I feel absolutely refreshed. Keep it up! You are doing great.

  4. Such a wonderful reminder! I was just feeling blessed playing shark today! :) Thanks for this post. I am going to make a conscious effort -- for all of us!

  5. Love this! And as for mothering books, the absolute one and only author I'd reccomend is Sally Clarkson. She weaves enjoying our families as worship throughout her books!

  6. Today I had a crazy dance party with my one-year-old. I did most of the dancing while she watched and howled with laughter...which made me laugh, of course. It was good for both of us!