I’m at a disadvantage with dealing with teasing, since if I had my druthers, I’d get rid of most teasing, sarcasm, and general goofiness. Go ahead and stare; I realize it’s a little extreme.
With that admission, I have been aware that my oldest son has been bit by the teasing bug. I’m absolutely positive that he picked this up from somebody else’s children. He now teases his sisters, he teases girls who come over to play. He rarely teases his mother. This last fact is worth thinking about.
What should I do? Because not all teasing is wrong, forbidding all levity is not an option. I can see some evidence of good teasing in the Bible. More on this another time.
I can also see evidence of bad teasing in the Bible. There’s a danger of too much joking— Solomon who warns that it is better to be in the house of mourning than the house of mirth. Why? Because humor can deaden sober thinking. It’s not what humor is; it’s what it can do.
We see that humor can be used to deceive and hurt. Solomon compares a man who does so to a madman who throws fire arrows of death.
We are warned against coarse joking, and in our day most sitcoms fit in this category. Laurel and I had a serious conversation in the bathroom the other day talking about why we can say poop and pee in the bathroom, but not in the van with her siblings as a topic of humor. Sexual innuendo is also a problem biblically. Thankfully, this is not a problem in our house.
It’s obvious that motives and effects are significant when thinking through humor. With David, the first lesson we want him to learn is, “If both people are not having fun, then it’s not good teasing.” That lesson is not as easily learned as I might like.
We’ve added a few lessons:
- Don’t tease someone who has scissors in his hands. (Lee learned this one a long time ago as “Don’t tease a wife who has something hot. Ever.”)
- Teasing can start out enjoyable, but then not be enjoyable. Stop teasing when the other person doesn’t like it. (As he gets older, we’ll have to teach him that it’s not always easy to tell when people are unhappy with teasing.)
- “Please stop” is the sacred command. It is to be honored immediately and consistently. There’s no confusion that maybe the person is really enjoying the teasing and doesn’t want it stopped. This rule holds for adults and children.
- Don’t tease at mealtimes. (we might let up on this at some point, but right now it’s necessary!)
- Don’t tease when you’re angry.
- Don’t tease when you’re feeling left out.
I’m sure we’ll have more. Any thoughts or Scriptures that you teach when you’re talking about teasing?