The Power of “The Dad Joke”

happy pirate familyMy daughters have accused me of telling “Dad jokes.” I don’t know what they’re talking about. Even some of their friends have accused me of telling dad jokes. I asked for clarification of the “Dad joke” and knew their answer could not describe my jokes…”lame,” “silly,” “sarcastic,” “uncool.” Well, maybe I do that once in a while, but is that really so bad?  “No,” my daughters reply as they roll their eyes. “Keep it up, they’re stupid.” So confusing…lame, silly, even stupid and uncool yet embraced, laughed at, and asked to continue. I really don’t know what they’re talking about. But, it did make me think about “the Dad joke.” I think the Dad joke really carries a great deal of power. By the way, what happened when the cow jumped over the fence? I heard it was an udder disaster.


Dad jokes teach children to use humor when navigating the world of disappointment and momentary failures. Dad jokes help set the stage for seeing the disappointing situation in a fresh way and then thinking about the problem in a new way. Like the father whose son was thrown out at third. The father tells him, “That’s because it takes longer to get from 2nd to 3rd than it does from 1st to 2nd. There’s that shortstop in between.” Suddenly, the disappointment is a little less painful.


Dad jokes also help our children cope with fear. Mom and Dad can comfort, but sometimes it’s the Dad joke (“don’t worry about seven, he eight nine and is full now”) on the way out the door that makes children smile and lay down to sleep.


Dad jokes also nurture intimacy and connection. Laughing together bonds people…and it’s just plain fun. Who doesn’t like to have fun together? And what parent does not crave moments of laughter with their children? By the way, no running in your campsite. Why? Because you can only “ran” when it’s past tense.


Dad jokes lighten the moment and make time go faster, building anticipation. In our family we pass a cemetery as we near our church camp. Knowing my children need to learn a little about death, I seize the teaching moment to announce, “People are dying to get in there” and point at the cemetery. Amidst the “Aww Dad” and groans, I hear a chuckle. I recognize a new spark in the voice and hear a response that acknowledges, “We’re almost there, yay.”


Dad jokes help our children see things from a fresh perspective, too. They help our children think about words and communication. After all, many Dad jokes are simply a play on words or a pun that force us think and see the situation in a slightly different way. To hear “A steak pun is a rare medium well done” encourages the listener to think about the meaning of words and how context impacts that meaning. These skills are important in social interactions and business interactions later in life.


Dad jokes also help our children see the irony of situations and, in turn, they encourage critical thinking. “I asked a salesperson in the local bookstore where the self-help section was. She said if she told me it would defeat the purpose.” Think about it…the irony, the critical thought…aha, there’s the laugh.


So, I guess I don’t mind being accused of a Dad joke now and again. Every Dad joke is just a moment of learning, bonding, growing, and sharing. So what’s your favorite Dad joke?

  • We’re going for a walk. Don’t go running. I want to be Roman, not Russian, on this walk. Slow down.
  • “Dad I want hands-free on my phone.” “Then delete all the Germans from your contact list.” “What?” “Then you’ll be Hans free.”
  • I heard the energizer bunny got arrested. He was charged with battery. (It keeps on going and going.)
  • Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? Cuz its “p” is silent.
  • How do you make a hankie dance? Put a little boogie in it. Now blow your nose.

Enjoy Jimmy Fallon’s favorite Dad jokes from #StopItDad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.