Dads may be the king of corny puns, but even their cheesiest jokes can make us laugh. They can also make us groan and roll our eyes, which makes them more than a little annoying at times. But if you can look past the groans and eye rolls, they might actually be doing your kids some good.
Whether they’re 3am feedings, bowls of mac and cheese, or blanket forts, dads can be pretty awesome. But there’s one thing they might not be as great at — telling dad jokes. Bad dad jokes are some of the most cringe-inducing puns around, and they can be pretty hard to get right. But if you can look past the eye rolls and groans, these cheesy dad jokes might just do your kids some good.
Dad jokes are funny because they’re so unfunny. They violate a number of norms, including the rule against ambiguity and a social norm against offending others. That’s what makes them different from regular puns, which are only offending if they violate some other norm, such as a linguistic norm against ambiguity or a social norm of sensitivity and taste.
Because dad jokes are so offending, they can also be a form of weaponized anti-humor, used to tease or annoy their children. When used in this way, they teach children how to withstand minor attacks and bouts of negative emotion without getting too worked up or acting out, which is an important skill for them to learn at all ages.
A good dad joke can be an effective tool for parents to use to build their relationship with their children. By engaging their kids with simple humor, like puns, tongue twisters, and question-and-answer jokes, dads can help them become more receptive to learning new information and develop their own sense of humor.
Dads can also use humor to foster their children’s independence by demonstrating that they’re capable of making their own choices and solving problems. In addition, by encouraging their kids to playfully challenge their authority figures with their own wit, dads can show their kids that they’re capable of standing up for themselves and asserting their autonomy.
As the father of a toddler, I know firsthand that a good dad joke can brighten up an otherwise stressful situation. And I’m sure many parents out there can relate to the feeling of relief that comes with hearing a good dad joke after a long day of toddler tantrums or preschool meltdowns.
Whether it’s a good dad joke or a bad dad joke, you’re probably laughing out loud at some point during your day. And if not, well, there’s always tomorrow.
This article was originally published in August 2016 and has since been updated.
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This is a guest post by Samantha S. of The Stir. Samantha is a writer and editor who covers parenting, food, health, lifestyle, and travel. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Parents Magazine, and Time Out Chicago. Follow her on Twitter at @samantha_s.