Adrienne Hedger is the award-winning cartoonist behind the popular web comic “Hedger Humor.” Her work has been featured on BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Upworthy, Today.com, Yahoo!, Disney, Nickelodeon, and other popular media outlets. Several of Adrienne’s cartoons have become viral sensations, reaching tens of millions of people worldwide. She lives in California with her husband, two teenage daughters, and her dog.
When you are doing the work to understand your (often over-) reactions to your children, a lot of it can be quite challenging and emotionally heavy. Triggers take a lot of headspace to understand and process. Reframing our thoughts is difficult to do! So when I discover a source of humour that reflects parental challenges, I grab it and hold on as tightly as I can. That’s why I subscribe to Adrienne’s monthly emails: they make me laugh out loud.
It’s not that Adrienne’s cartoons are all mirth and jolliness, it’s that she gets it. Okay, yes, her cartoons can be silly and hilarious for sure, but she really, really knows the frustrations we parents feel and captures that perfectly. She then expertly takes challenging parental moments and helps us take a step back to see a bigger picture. She finds the funny in an emotionally charged moment,skillfully using storytelling to shift our perspective. Her message is: Parenting is HARD, but if we can laugh a bit during situations we can’t really control, maybe we can enjoy them a bit more.
We had the BEST conversation, in which she shared her story and parenting approach. We even had a cartoon moment of our own when she went into her closet to be near the Wi-Fi and have some quiet.
We talked about how:
- Her life was lived in two very different worlds because her parents were divorced — her father was delighted by kids and laughed a lot, whereas her mother had to do the day-to-day parenting and so the threshold for silliness was at a more ‘normal’ level than Adrienne’s is now.
- Her husband has a very different parenting style and she has had to share parenting duties full-time with another person, unlike her mother who had complete control. She cannot just run her own show! That took adjusting.
- Her “unpredictable” parenting approach (to quote from her daughter) is actually consistent if we look at it from the perspective of stakes, like ‘harmless’ versus ‘safety’ issues. We concluded that the litmus test consists of asking: Is it ‘reversible’?
- Sometimes people think that she lives in the ‘ha-ha’ happy world of cartoons. In actuality, she’s living in the same frustrating parenting world we all do.
- The act of cartooning her life has changed her parenting. It’s kind of like being a reporter: she can step out of the drama and take a more meta view of the situation.
- Parenting is so ridiculous. It is really, really hard. You love your kids so much. There is so much at stake. The best way to survive it is to turn to humour!
Her advice: Get yourself a notebook and put it somewhere very convenient, where you spend a lot of time in the house. Jot down funny ‘moments’ in your family life whenever they arise. Capture things that made your laugh or touched you. After a year of that, you will have gems to look at with warmth.