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Monday Mom challenge: Stop the snark

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Watch your attitude!

Snark and sarcasm, it seems, have become a way of life. Too much a way of life, really. You may call it humor -- and it is in some respects -- but it’s becoming so overused that real, genuine and honest interaction is becoming harder and harder to come by! And is it really the respectful example you want to set for your kids? Didn’t think so. It’s time to stop the snark.

mother talking to teenage daughter

When things are obvious, ridiculous, silly or even normal, snark has become a way of life. Think about how often in a day you use snark or sarcasm to convey a feeling of disgust or ridicule wrapped up in "humor."

How often do you use snark or sarcasm as a copout -- instead of making the effort to offer kindness or constructive emotions whether to another adult or to your child? Snark and sarcasm are no excuse for poor communication and if you use them too much, it can be difficult for others to discern when you are conveying more genuine emotions.

Snark can hurt

Snarky comments can have their appropriate moments, but they can also hurt feelings. They wrap up very negative emotions in humor when humor isn't always warranted -- and neither is that negativity. Particularly when dealing with children, snarky comments can hurt. Kids don't have the well-developed humor muscle that we do so they may not understand that you are trying to be funny.

When a situation is serious, snark can be just plain inappropriate. It may seem like a way to get out of a tough situation that you don't quite know how to address, but it can just exacerbate the situation all around. You've "laughed" off something and those around you may be left confused and wondering why. What is obvious to you may not be obvious to them.

The example of honesty

Instead of relying on snark and sarcasm, try being honest with yourself and your child and the adults around you and respond to situations honestly and with tact. Instead of, "Yeah, right!" try, "I'm not comfortable with this situation. How can we make it more comfortable for everyone?"

When your child asks for a cookie before dinner, why resort to snark when a simple, "We don't eat dessert before meals," will do? When your neighbor suggests an outlandish block party, your in-laws make comments about your son's clothes or whatever it is, try not using snark and sarcasm for a while. Try using tact and honesty to strengthen the relationship rather than snark to dismiss the feelings of others.

Be kind

Cutting down the snark and sarcasm is essentially a return to kindness. You want people -- friends and family alike! -- to be kind to you, so be kind to them. You want your kids to be kind to others, so be kind to everyone as an example of that.

This isn't to say that some snarky comments aren't okay when you are out with your girlfriends for a dishy night on the town, but be far more judicious in your use of snark and sarcasm. You might find, if you are more careful about when and how you use snark, you will enjoy its (occasional) use even more and find it's more effective when it is used.

Read more about communicating effectively


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