Dad jokes are the corny puns and cheesy one-liners that fathers all over the world can’t help but tell their kids. And even though these jokes are almost always met with groans and eye rolls, they never seem to lose their appeal. The r/dadjokes subreddit, for example, has more than 1.12 million subscribers who love to share their favorite bad dad jokes.
But it’s not just the groan factor that makes these jokes so appealing. According to humor researchers, bad dad jokes actually offer unique benefits to children. “By teasingly striking at their children’s egos and emotions without teetering over into bullying, fathers build their children’s resilience by training them to withstand minor attacks and bouts of negative emotion,” writes humor researcher Marc Hye-Knudsen in an article for the British Psychological Society journal.
In addition to helping children build their emotional and physical resilience, these jokes also teach kids how to play with language. Humor — and specifically, dad jokes — uses a predictable structure that is easy for young children to pick up and understand. They learn how to create a setup, an expectation for the punchline, and then surprise their audience with a cleverly-worded twist.
So next time you hear a dad joke, try not to cringe too much. Instead, embrace it for the sarcastic, self-deprecating, and oftentimes downright silly humor that it is. And maybe you’ll discover that it just might make you laugh a little bit too.