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Challenge: It's Good To Be Bad

There are both risks and benefits to parenting with sarcasm.

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We all know one. There is one in every group of friends and one at every workplace and more often than not, one in every family. Who am I talking about? The sarcastic one.

In my family, this person is my husband. Did you know he speaks three languages? Yep, impressive right? He speaks English, Sarcasm and Profanity. Thankfully, the profanity only occurs when he is driving. Do I enjoy his sarcasm, you ask? Eh, not all the time. But, he does make me laugh—a lot. And, he would surely attest that sarcasm is the highest form of intelligence.

In general, sarcastic people think they are funny. In some cases, they actually are. However, they are also sometimes thoughtlessly hurtful. For those that are sensitive-souls, like me, sarcasm can be difficult to bear. Though my husband only means it humorously and always intends his sarcasm as a joke, sometimes I just can’t handle it. Other times, it is genuinely funny.

For kids though, sarcasm is harder to pick up on. It is also harder to understand. If you are a sarcastic parent, like my husband, you need to be sure that you understand how sarcasm works, why you are using it and how to ensure that your children are comfortable with it. Typically, those that affirm that their sarcasm is humor, are usually individuals that are persistently sarcastic about everything–themselves, their job and not just towards you.

Sarcasm is all over the place in the real world. You can’t go through your day without encountering at least one sarcastic person or overhearing a sarcastic comment spoken. So, maybe it is good that our kids get a dose of sarcasm at home. Maybe it is good preparation for real life.

Kids are usually taught, “Don’t say anything if you have nothing nice to say.” They are also told often that “It’s not what you say, but rather how you say it.” Because of this, parents who use sarcasm with young children, need to be careful as they run the risk being misunderstood or upsetting their children. On the other hand, your sarcasm can have your kids laughing their faces off, so it does have its benefits.

Here is what I see to be the pros and cons of using sarcasm in your interactions with your children:


  • You are helping your child learn how to engage in clever banter with another person. This is a good life skill in reference to social interaction.
  • You are showing your child how to make light of some of life challenges/stresses.
  • Some studies have shown that sarcasm actually fosters creativity; in both those on the giving and receiving end.
  • Studies also show that the use of sarcasm and the interpreting of sarcasm, both promote higher cognitive functioning.


  • Sarcasm is typically delivered indirectly and subtly and as such is not always picked up on by children.
  • You can confuse your child. They may not know what it is that you are really getting at and what your desired outcome goal is.
  • If your child attempts to copy your sarcasm, at school, per say, their teacher may think they are being disrespectful.
  • Sarcasm, to some, is a form of passive aggressiveness, which most believe to be an unfavorable trait for anyone.

Overall, the takeaway here is that you should use your personal discretion when parenting with sarcasm. Only you know your children and the best and most appropriate way to communicate with them. It is clear that there are both risks and benefits to parenting with sarcasm and my opinion is that you should keep salty remarks limited to those you are confident won’t take offense.

“Sarcasm. I put that stuff on everything.” —90% of Dads

This article originally appeared on jthreeNMe and was republished by The Good Men Project.

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