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Pranking & The Family Dynamic


In my household, we have a kid who is always eager to set up pranks for his family. I can always see when he is up to something like this because of a certain glow in his face. My daughter however likes to warn me in advance so I can avoid hurt feelings or frustration.


Just like some people either love or hate broccoli, some people are alright with pranks while it might feel extremely offensive to others. I can tolerate pranks but in setting up someone else, I am usually hyperaware of how they could respond. Only you know if your spouse has the type of personality that will make him or her laugh or get angry and frustrated.


My son and I have these talks often regarding whom he is setting up. For example, a new member in his youth quorum may not be the best choice unless you know for certain that they are feeling welcome, included, and happy. A disabled senior citizen may not be a good recipient of a prank if there is a mess to clean up afterwards. It would be best to pass on anyone who might feel targeted because of a joke and that takes some serious consideration.


Once you have determined that he or she would be alright with a prank, how will you do it? Social media has plenty of ideas from the magical coin in the water bottle to the Mentos in the two-liter of Coke. YouTube has many videos with a wide range of difficulty to pull off. How much of a mess are you willing to create, knowing you will most likely be needing to clean it up afterward?


When I was in the Provo Missionary Training Center, we were visited by President James E. Faust. He told us of a time when he lived in a boarding house with other people his age. At night, he would sneak down and eat ice cream out of the freezer. One night, when he opened the freezer door, he found a note by a young lady asking him why he did not just get bread and butter instead of eating all the ice cream. He left his own note explaining, “The scriptures teach that man shall not live by bread alone…” I believe he ended up marrying that girl.


Elder Wirthlin shared a story about the importance of learning to laugh. He recounted, “I remember loading up our children in a station wagon and driving to Los Angeles. There were at least nine of us in the car, and we would invariably get lost. Instead of getting angry, we laughed. Every time we made a wrong turn, we laughed harder.

Getting lost was not an unusual occurrence for us. Once while heading south to Cedar City, Utah, we took a wrong turn and didn’t realize it until two hours later when we saw the “Welcome to Nevada” signs. We didn’t get angry. We laughed, and as a result, anger and resentment rarely resulted. Our laughter created cherished memories for us… The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.”1

So, by all means, prank away! Use your plastic wrap on the toilet seat, put a fake bug near the breakfast plate, swap boiled eggs for raw eggs, hijack the Bluetooth speaker with your own music, slip a few drops of hot sauce on the dinner of the unsuspecting. Be warned, however, you will eventually be the recipient of the prank. Have fun and choose to laugh!

1 “Come What May and Love It,” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday afternoon session

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