The Unexpected Pitfalls of Teasing in Your Family

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Do you remember people saying that when you were a child? How old were you when you realized that it wasn’t true? Words can hurt.

That’s a good reminder if you’re part of a family whose members like to joke around with each other. Channeled properly, friendly teasing can be both healthy and bonding. Laughter is contagious. It brings people together by diffusing arguments and smoothing out differences. But when teasing spills outside proper boundaries, problems develop. One family member becomes a target, and the tone of teasing shifts from “fun and games” to harsh or insulting.

I had a great conversation about this topic on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly “The Unexpected Pitfalls of Teasing Your Family.” Joining me in the studio were Ginger Hubbard, the author of several parenting books including a children’s storybook called Shawn and His Amazing Shrinking Sister: A Book About Teasing; and Dr. Danny Huerta, Focus on the Family’s Vice President of Parenting and Youth, and host of our Practice Makes Parent podcast with Rebecca St. James.

They say teasing can be constructive and playful between two people who have a loving, trusted relationship and who are enjoying themselves. It becomes damaging when it’s one-sided or used to hurt, humiliate or gain control over someone else.

Teasing is often selfish and employed for several reasons:

  • Attention.
  • Entertaining others at someone else’s expense.
  • Masking the truth in humor, a passive-aggressive means of saying what we’re afraid to say forthrightly.

We also discussed:

  • How to help children respond rather than react to teasing.
  • Strategies to help parents stop hurtful teasing in their home.

Listen to my full conversation with Ginger Hubbard and Dr. Danny Huerta on your local radio station, online, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or take us with you on our free phone app.

Ginger Hubbard’s book Shawn and His Amazing Shrinking Sister: A Book About Teasing is available for a gift of any amount. Click here for more information or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

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