Shit stirring our kids, the art of being Dad

There is one thing all fathers love to do and that is stirring up their kids. We don’t really think much about it, we just see it as a dad being a dad, ruff-housing and telling bad jokes (better known as dad jokes).

Amy Doyle

Amy Doyle

Holistic Counsellor

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father Shit stirring his kids

Seeing our husbands tease our children can be hard to watch at times, as our thinking may tell us that they don’t care or are being too hard on them. Or perhaps we cringe when wel hear them sing songs, changing the words and lyrics just to make them funnier (and so inappropriate!). However, it turns out that all the things that can drive mothers nuts are actually greatly beneficial to the creativity, social skills and wellbeing of our children. 

So why is that all men instinctively tease and test our kids? And why are they seen as the fun parent?


There is one thing every man does – it’s in their biology (!) and that is teasing or annoying our kids! This happens for good reason though, as it starts to socially condition kids to function in society. They learn that dad’s use different voices and are able to learn to discern the difference between the:

  • serious voices
  • fun voices 
  • play voices
  • sarcastic voices 
  • And more!

Kids not only start to tell the difference between these but are also able to pick up on the different body languages and expressions that come with each. Not only are they learning the voice but they also learn what fun is, different emotions and potential reactions – all in a safe environment.


You learn where that fine line is and how to set boundaries from your dad and your siblings. We all know there’s that point where it goes too far. When dad steps in and goes “no that’s too far” or “oh sorry mate/sweet” when they’ve gone too far or it’s become offensive, dad’s are there to teach our kids to speak up. This gives them self-confidence to say no, to know the line/boundary and when it’s been crossed, to express the hurt/pain and when and how to stop.  


So when children get older and someone annoys them, they have experientially learned and practised the skills over time to: 

  • know what is offensive 
  • how to say no/go away 
  • express the hurt/pain
  • set the boundary
  • read body language and voice tones
  • discern the difference between danger and play.
child being cheeky to dad


Ruff-housing and playful teasing also helps develop well-rounded kids and their ability to socialise with other kids. They learn:

  • to gauge what and how the other is feeling
  • the difference between teasing, bullying/tormenting/torturing
  • what boundaries are and what’s “too far”


These skills often come from testing them out with siblings and dads. Of course it can happen with mum’s too, but teasing from mum can be felt as an insult by children as she is generally the more nurturing and empathetic one in the family dynamic – it can disrupt the psychological welfare of the child in the home environment. 


It’s important to note that kids who are also more emotional and easily upset may actually benefit from more playful teasing from dad as it can build resilience, confidence and ability to deal with criticsim and feedback in a healthy dynamic.


There are many times when the health of the family and those who are apart of it benefit from divorce. However, we also all know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” – there is so much truth in this statement because having to play out two primary roles that are quite different but equally important is a lot and can often have you internally conflicted about what action or stance to take.

The role of the masculine (usually played out by dad) and the feminine (usually played out by mum) need to be considered and this takes open, honest dialogue between the parents to ensure kids are receiving a well-rounded upbringing.

What can create obstacles are weak or abusive men and/or uninvolved or overbearing women. They can throw the masculine-feminine dance out of sync.


The other big point is fathers help create socially normal adjusted children and the one indicator that all bullies and bullied children have in common is a fatherless home, a weak/absent father, or an abusive father.

When a child doesn’t learn these social skills (typically from a healthy father), they can turn to either: 

  • Being a bully – as one common trait with bullies is that they are socially and emotionally unstable. Something they are able to learn with dad. 
  • Being bullied – a child that is picked on is generally not socially adapted (again lack of time with dad) and that results in them getting picked on.

 The core problem is the same but the way children express thier emotions of having a broken home come out differently – different symptoms to the same problem. A problem that starts at home and is largely affected by the health of the father’s involvement.


Men learn early on that if you can’t handle criticism you won’t be successful AND you are only successful to the extent of the criticism you can take or handle or process. Ask any politician, CEO, or successful manager, or even Elon Musk! 

Their ability to lead well goes hand-in-hand with their ability to take criticism well and move forward. It is a very important skill that has been forgotten in society, except to successful people. 

We are now living in a society that is lacking the ability to take criticism because we have lost respect for our men (“healthy” men) and the vital and natural role they play in shaping our children. What we often hear in the criticism that we are unable to take on, is our father or the lack of our father in our lives due to them being absent, weak or abusive. And not only that but our own skewed bias, trauma or baggage is being passed onto our kids without evern realising it. In fact it is slowly destroying a functioning society and has been deemed as the ‘WOKE Movement’ – a movement stemming from broken men and women who don’t know the vital roles they play in raising “healthy” and well-rounded children and families.


The key takeaway to remember is that we build relationships through trust and mutual respect and if you can’t be playfully teased you can’t be trusted or respected because you can’t be trusted to speak up about your boundaries and communicate when they’ve been crossed. 

This in part is why men are able to be better friends. The playful teasing you get at work or in a group is in an attempt to include you in the group not exclude you from the group – it is an invitation to play and to test where that boundary is. If you have the skills it’s a dynamic dance of wit. 

The problem we see is in modern work environments is people will go to HR and complain they have been discriminated against when someone has actually invited them over to play. Without those imperative skills learned through the child-father dynamic of being able to play, discern differences between play and bullying and set boundaries and expectations and communicate them, we jump the steps and head straight to an authority figure. In doing this, it only highlights immaturity and lack of healthy, effective communication. It often hinders the relationship, destroys trust and impacts those invitations to play.

Meet The Author

Amy Doyle

Amy Doyle

Amy is a Holistic Counsellor who helps her clients move from this idea that they are broken or missing pieces of their own puzzle, to owning their story, claiming back all parts of themselves and merging together as one team to allow them to rest and be in their deepest expression.

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Sources and suggested reading:

Book: The Boy Crisis, Warren Farrell

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