With April Fool’s Day falling on the Monday after Easter this year, most of our area schools are out for Easter break. This makes many of my elementary aged friends very sad, and my school teacher friends very happy! I know pranks and jokes are not always an easy thing to handle, and they can quickly go from fun to problem.
So what’s a mom to do? It can be a fine tight rope to walk when we teach our kids the balance between jokes and pranks that are fun and jokes and pranks that are bullying. I believe there is a time for fun. We need to teach our kids to laugh and the important life skill of being laughed at. BUT we do not need to teach our kids how to belittle, mock or demean someone for the sake of a laugh.
Here are a couple of questions your kids can ask themselves before deciding to prank a friend:
1) What is your relationship with that person? No relationship. No pranking.
2) Do you know them well enough to tease or prank them? We often have no idea what is going on in someone’s private life. Our little joke may be a big thing to them.
3) Why have you chosen to prank this person? Often, it is the person we value the least who we choose to play the prank on. Would you play this prank on the most popular kid in school?
4) Is this a person who likes jokes and pranks? Some people just really don’t like this kind of stuff. Knowing that and doing it anyway can simply be unkind.
5) How would you feel if this was done to you? This question is a tricky one since sometimes what wouldn’t bother us, could really hurt someone else.
6) Is the prank innocent in nature? If so, you may be good to go. If not, stay away.
7) Are you going to be willing to clean up any mess you make from the prank? Dumping confetti from the top of a door can be funny, but not if someone else has to come around and clean it all up.
8) What are your motives? Is there any part of you that may want to “get back” at the person for something? Are you doing something to show off to others? If so, don’t do it.
9) Are you being pressured by friends or peers to do something to someone you are not comfortable with? If so, don’t do it.
10) Is it against school rules, home rules or the rules of the American legal system? If so, don’t do it.
Obviously some of these questions apply to kids at different ages and stages. However the underlying messages are ones that say, “Show proper respect to everyone.” I Peter 2:17 and “Love is not rude.” I Corinthians 13:5
Mama Mia! There is no doubt we all need to add a little joy and laughter to our lives. I absolutely believe there is a time for laughter and fun–both of which our kids need to learn. They just don’t need to come at someone else’s expense. Laughing with someone isn’t same as laughing at someone. We want to teach our children to laugh with their friends, not at their friends, and we want to teach them respect the authorities in their lives.
So, if you haven’t gotten your April Fool’s Day game on yet, get on your favorite search engine and see what kind of fun you can come up with, and enjoy the gift of laughter with your family today.
(Just last year, we did a dinner for the widows in our church and served meatloaf cupcakes topped with mashed potato frosting, and had peas and carrots made from starburst–in case you are looking for simple idea!)