Dad jokes are the family-friendly puns and one-liners that fathers across the globe can’t help but tell (and everyone else groans at). While it might seem tempting to simply dismiss them as cringe comedy, dad jokes actually reveal a lot about how humour works and the psychology of parent-child relationships. In fact, if you think about it, bad dad jokes are a pedagogical tool that can teach kids important lessons, writes Marc Hye-Knudsen.
The first lesson that dad jokes teach is that embarrassment is survivable. The stereotype of a dad joke involves a father telling a lame pun to his children, and then derives amusement from their subsequent reactions. Dad jokes thus teach children that a moment of embarrassment is not only survivable but, in many cases, even desirable.
Second, dad jokes teach that there is a fine line between playful teasing and bullying. The teasing and ridicule of dad jokes is often intentionally crude and offensive, but this doesn’t make it bullying, as the jokes aren’t meant to hurt their children’s feelings.
Finally, dad jokes also teach children the importance of honesty and authenticity. By exposing their children to potentially embarrassing jokes, fathers show that they are willing to be vulnerable with them and that it’s okay to be a little silly from time to time. This can be an incredibly valuable lesson as adolescents move through the social pressures of adolescence and into adulthood. Moreover, it can help them withstand the teasing and ridicule they will likely encounter from friends and romantic partners.