Just about every mom has had to deal with it at some point — or will. You child speaks to you with a huge helping of snark. Whether it takes you by surprise or is par for the course, does it need to be addressed? Is it just sass? Is it humor? Is it a bad attitude? Did they learn by example? How should it be addressed? When you are trying to raise kids to be respectful but also have a sense of humor, sometimes this scenario can be a challenge. A little bit of snark and sarcasm may have its place in your home, but how much, when and why need to be addressed.
Particularly in the adolescent years, snark and sarcasm can be more than tools of dark humor to deal with various situations: They can be a way of life. Teenagers hone their sarcastic muscle to fine point precision and can hurl it like a dagger on demand. You may or may not have been using a little sarcasm and snark in your own parenting, but this higher level often can be shocking. It might be time to address your kids’ snark and sarcasm — and your own.
Where did they learn it?
So, where does a kid learn snark and sarcasm? Often at home. Yes, there is a good chance your child learned it from you. Even if you were careful not to use it toward your child, if you used it at all, that little sponge known as your offspring picked up on it. They pick up on everything! It’s not just adolescents, either. Precocious preteens and sassy younger kids may be giving this technique a try after hearing you.
If you haven’t talked about when and how snark and sarcasm can be appropriate (because at times, it can be), now is the time to do so. It goes hand in hand with discussions about humor, appropriateness and manners.
How kids talk with their friends is vastly different from how they talk to their parents and other adults in their lives — or at least it should be. When you overhear how kids talk to each other, it can surprise and stun you! Yet they do, and for the most part, it’s okay…for them. That doesn’t mean you should just let it go, however. Talking about how even this (mostly) accepted tone and attitude can be misinterpreted is important. It can help your child start to understand that there is a balance between snark and more genuine forms of communication.
…or with family and adults
Using snark and sarcasm with family and other adults, however, is a whole other issue. Kids of all ages need to be reminded that there is a different, more respectful standard expected of them when interacting with their parents, family members and adults in general. If you like, you can outline how some snark and sarcasm might be okay within your smaller nuclear unit and under what circumstances, but be clear that when it come to the outside world, snark and sarcasm will, most definitely, not be okay.
Think before you speak
Now that you’ve heard your child mirror this behavior back at you, hopefully you’ll think a little more before you speak, whether it’s snark, sarcasm or something else. This isn’t to say this bit of often fun humor has to go out the door entirely, but it does need to be used more judiciously by the whole family.