I’m SOOO Embarrassing!

Vanessa being cool

According to my 13 year old daughter, I am THE most embarrassing parent in the world. I know most teenagers think that about their parents, but apparently they are all wrong, because it is me. I actually think I’m a pretty cool parent, you can see how cool I am from the picture right? Right?! Apparently though, this is the problem, parents shouldn’t try to be cool they should just be, well…parents. The thing is though, I didn’t realise I was TRYING to be cool, I thought I just was cool.

I completely understand though, because I do rather a large number of embarrassing things – I talk, I smile, I laugh, sometimes I wave, and once when we were in the car I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel in time to the music in front of her friends! It’s surprising she can ever show her face anywhere considering this ritual humiliation that I constantly subject her to.

My son seems to be a bit more accepting of my presence in public for now (unless I try to give him a hug or kiss in front of people), but I’m sure that will all change in a couple of years when he’s at secondary school. For now, however, I am permitted to go out without having to walk six paces behind him with a paper bag on my head.

I wonder why it is though that so many kids/teenagers find their parents embarrassing. I lived with just my Dad from around age 7 till 16, and I don’t remember being particularly embarrassed by him (and I’m not just saying that because he subscribes to this blog, teehee), maybe I was and I’ve just forgotten, but I don’t think so. Ignoring the photo at the top of this post, I’m genuinely baffled as to what I do or don’t do, or what I could do differently to make things easier for her. I’m generally fairly quiet and in the background when her friends are around, I’m pretty easygoing about what they do. She hasn’t cited my clothing or hair as being a problem (mostly). I do sometimes tell stories about things she did when she was little, and I guess that can be a bit embarrassing. Maybe that’s it. The stories. Hmmm. And sometimes I might dance around and sing a bit when she puts some music on. And I do like to try silly hats on in shops. But overall, I really do think she could do a lot worse.

Does anyone else have experience of being an embarrassing parent? If so, any tips on how to deal with it?

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59 responses to “I’m SOOO Embarrassing!

  1. I love this topic!

    Right now my son is 9, so I don’t embarrass him that much. He actually likes having me around so far. Do you think though that there is a difference between genders? A daughters just has a different relationship with her mother? I don’t know.

    I was rarely embarrassed by my mother though. She took great pains not to embarrass me–“Do you want me to drop you off two blocks away so no one will see me?” she’d ask. I’d sigh and tell her I was too unpopular for that to make any difference so she could drop me off at the door.

    My dad liked to embarrass me, and would try to. When he was not trying to say something funny though, I was fine with him being around.

    I really believe though that what your kid finds embarrassing today will be a fond memory when they’re older and they’re talking to their friends about their parents. So hang in there.

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    • Perhaps you’re right, maybe there is a gender thing going on here. Perhaps a bit of competition, maybe she’s worried that she won’t be as cool as me πŸ™‚

      I do really try quite hard to not embarrass her, like if I’m picking her up from an after school activity, I always text her from outside rather than coming in to find her, things like that.

      Sometimes I deliberately mess about in front of her friends, but only the ones that I know well, that she has been friends with for years, and she doesn’t seem to mind that too much.

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  2. I have an 8 year old sister who went off on mom the other day for waving at a man mowing that she didn’t know. He waved at her as she was driving by, she waved back, and the way my sister was going on you’d think mom started World War 3 or something!

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  3. Brilliant post, Vanessa! I think you’re fulfilling your role as parent rather well. Having your kids be mortally embarrassed by your presence is like a rite of passage – congratulations! πŸ˜‰

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  4. Great picture! There’s a saying which goes: “If you’re not embarrassing your children, you’re obviously not enjoying yourself.”
    My mother used to think that the music in jeans shops was too loud, and so she’d walk around with her fingers very prominently in her ears to show the staff just how bad it was. I found that pretty embarrassing as a teenager. The thing is – she still does it. πŸ™‚

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  5. My parents used to embarrass me a lot. My mother wore strange clothes that she thought were great, but I knew they were so wrong. My dad, well, he was all right until there was a party.

    I don’t think I embarrass my kids yet. They’re 9 and 7, so at this age they still love to have me around. I volunteer at their school, and I also teach writing classes at their school (which they participate in, actually). Their friends all come up and talk to me or give me hugs, so I think as long as their friends like seeing me, then my kids are down with it.

    I will say though that telling stories about your kids to their friends is THE fastest way to chase your children away from you, lol. So, I wouldn’t be surprised that when your daughter says you’re embarrassing, she really means it’s because you’re ‘outing’ her to her friends. I hated it (and still do) when my mother used to talk about things I did as a toddler or as a young girl. They’re never cool stories either. They’re always about diaper accidents or stupid things I said or my tendency towards clumsiness. But then, she’d always talk about my sister and the amazing stuff my sister could do when she was little. So of course there is that competition.

    If you’re serious about trying to figure out what might be the glitch, then I’d cut back on the stories. Otherwise, I think you’re a cool parent for singing and dancing–I do that with my kids, too! πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, yours are still below the age of real embarrassment. I’m not sure though that the reaction of our children’s friends has much bearing on their own embarrassment, not when they get older anyway. From what I’ve seen of my daugher and her friends, they all think that their own parents are embarrassing but that everyone else’s parents are fine. I’ve never heard any of them saying negative things about anyone else’s parents, just their own!

      I think it’s more other adults that I tell the stories to rather than her friends, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing for her, so perhaps you’re right, less stories!

      Maybe you’ll be lucky and yours will always find you cool! πŸ™‚

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  6. Tips on “cool” parenting. Well there are a LOT of things I tried and failed with but there are two that were hits. First was pancakes. Making and serving my daughters sleepovers pancakes for breakfast (at noon) proved to be a hit, as long as I didn’t try to say anything witty.

    With my boys the biggest hit was coaching their youth baseball teams. I loved coaching anyway so it just came natural for me, and kinda shocked other parents who wondered how that worked so well. The secret was age appropriate instruction language, which most adult men would forget immediately insisting that the young boys learn how to be professionals at age 12.

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    • I think you’re right there with the pancakes – the only time my daughter tends to be really pleased with me as a parent is when I provide an endless supply of snacks for sleepovers!

      Not sure I’m going to be coaching any sports teams any time soon though…

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  7. My parents were embarrassing. Mostly, my mother actively TRIED to be embarrassing. She would ask my friends if they wanted to talk about their periods, and she would tell boys that they could find our house because one of my bras would be hanging from a tree in the front. The thing is, all the other kids loved my mom. I was the only one completely and utterly humiliated.

    My mom still embarrasses me sometimes, but I still think she’s doing it on purpose.

    But do I embarrass my kids? Never.

    I absolutely adore this picture of you, Vanessa. You really ARE cool. And I am the authority on what’s cool, so if I say it be, then it be! πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you for sharing that story about your mother – I’m going to use that now, whenever my daughter complains about me being embarrassing, I will say “Well count yourself lucky that I’m not like this other mother I’ve heard about who…”.

      And thank you, I am cool then, I KNEW it! πŸ˜‰

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  8. It seems to me that children find embarrassing in their own parents things they find cool in other people’s parents. I remember one of ours was told that his mum was “safe”. Apparently this was even more embarrassing!

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    • Oh dear, I’m so out of touch, I don’t even know what it means to be “safe”.

      But you’re right, I can think of several occasions where my daughter has told me in a delighted way about something another parent has done, and I’ve said “If I did that, you’d tell me off!”. The response to that is usually “It’s different, you wouldn’t understand”. It seems that there is a lot I don’t understand.

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  9. My boys are 8 and 6. I think that they still regard me as being pretty cool, although the 8 year old has started rolling his eyes and going “Dadddyyy!!” at some of my jokes. We’ve just got back from cubcamp (Dads and Lads) and he was happy to hold my hand and give and receive hugs whilst there, in front of his mates, so I am happy with that situation right now.
    But, I think, times will soon be changing…
    And, you know, Vanessa, you still look pretty cool in your photo. No, not the one at the top of the page, the one at the top of this post… πŸ˜‰

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    • Thank you Ken – I’m thinking of going to buy alcohol dressed like that to see if I get asked for ID. I reckon I’ll either get asked for ID, or they will call someone to come urgently with a straightjacket. Either way it will be an adventure of sorts.

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  10. My son is far too young for that yet, but we figure we should get in a collection of embarrassing photos of him so if he grows up to be a brat we have something to embarrass him with. We unintentionally got some when he was about a year old. We had a photo session booked then he got a large bruise on the side of his head. We figured we would just sweep his hair over it. On all the photos he came out looking like he had a Grandpa comb over. Fabulous. We called him mini Grandpa after that.

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  11. I have no children, so no advice from me…but the above photo is pretty amazing and I wanted to give you credit for it. Though if it’s any consolation I hear they grow out of it. πŸ˜€

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  12. Hi Vanessa, just felt I had to comment on this post… although I don’t have children. Sometimes, they like to be seen to be the same as their friends, who are embarrassed by their parents, when in reality they’re not really. It’s some kind of peer pressure psychology thingy. I say just carry on being you, and doing what you do… and be as embarrassingly cool as you want to be! Cool photo, by the way! πŸ˜€

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  13. Wait until they move out. They will suddenly think you are cool and want to spend lots of your money, I mean their time with you.

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  14. Great photo πŸ˜€

    I don’t remember finding either of my parents embarrassing growing up. I didn’t think they were cool either. They let me get on with it without much interference. It probably helped that I was only friends with nice people so no-one thought anything of it if they did something that might embarrass other people my age.

    Actually, I suppose my parents were kinda cool. – My Mum always looked nice and I was proud of her for that (shallow?). I’m a Daddy’s girl so no complaints there either.

    I remember other people’s parents were cool / fun, although their daughters didn’t agree. I guess they weren’t happy that their friends came over to hang out with their parents.

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    • So much of it is about what the friends think isn’t it. There used to be a sitcom in the 80s that was quite popular for a while called ‘Me and My Girl’ about a girl living with just her Dad like I did, and I remember one friend commenting once that me and my Dad reminded her of that sitcom, and I thought that so cool! I went round telling everybody!

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  15. I never had children, so I can’t reply from that perspective, but I do recall when I was very small, maybe five years old, being mortally embarrassed when my mother and I would be out walking somewhere and she would run! Grownups just didn’t run! It was not adult and dignified! My mother thought that was pretty funny! Much later on, after we were both dignified adults, I would always walk faster than she did, and she thought that was rude! Now I can’t walk faster than anybody myself! Everything comes around!

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  16. great job. you’re a brave woman, and you pulled it off well.

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  17. I actually love that picture! Haha!

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  18. I’m not a parent, but I see this a lot with my friends kids. I don’t get it either. I don’t recall ever being embarrassed by my parents. Sorry, I can’t be of much help. I guess I can only share some support in that it seems you are not alone, so it’s not you, it’s them (those whacky teenagers). πŸ™‚

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  19. Lol, loooove the pic!! As far as embarrassing parents, I’m not a parent, but my father’s every action embarrassed me as a kid. He embarrassed me so much that I spent most of my teen years trying to be the opposite of everything he was. Part of it was because I was just a quiet, nerdy, somewhat insecure kid and the other was that he was more concerned about how cool he looked in front of my friends rather than how cool I looked in front of my friends. At the time I felt he was purposely trying to embarrass me, but now as an adult I realize he was just being his uncompromised self! He’s still more social than I am and has a better time meeting people, but I would have appreciated him toning down a bit when I was younger, at least when we were in public!!

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    • Thank you re the photo! It was actually my daughter who helped me get dressed up for the photo, I’m just grateful that when I asked her what I should wear to look like an embarrassing parent, she didn’t say “Just wear your normal clothes!”, haha.

      I was always very quiet as a kid too, but luckily my Dad was very quiet too, so that’s probably why I wasn’t embarrassed by him, he just kept out of the way really when my friends were around, so I didn’t have to worry about what he might do!

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  20. Hmm, my kids feel the same about me V, odd that. I’m up for anything and will try anything and I think they feel that shouldn’t be the case, however they weren’t as embarrassed by my antics when they were younger. They get a little nervous when I escort them to the school discos just in case I start to dance and get down with it, especially the trumpets lol. Adam had a girlfriend and was reluctant for me to meet her, he is probably right to have done that because i wouldn’t be able to resist being a little embarrassing. Lifes to short to be reserved, just have fun and encourage people to come with you, take it easy dudet πŸ˜‰ Gx

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    • Thanks G – knowing you (as I do!), I can imagine that even though your kids might be embarrassed about you, their friends probably think you’re really fun and cool! Yours will realise that too when they get older πŸ˜‰ x

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  21. Love, love it. The outfit is fabulous! Keep up the good work. By the way, as far as embarassing my daughter, ask her about the Gloria Estefan concert I forced her to go to. How I was singing along to all her songs and dancing in the aisles. She was mortified then, but she must have liked it because she still talks about it..

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  22. K-O-O-L picture. My mid-thirties daughter would say I shouldn’t say the word but I have anyway. I didn’t know what I was doing to embarrass my daughter when she was a teenager. All I know is that she finally got over it. It’s all a mystery to me.

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  23. They grow out of it. Sort of. My children have FINALLY decided I’m cool (the 17 and 14 year olds) but I didn’t change anything?!? Apparently I still embarrass them when I’m doing normal stuff. Then I’m cool when I’m doing other, NORMAL stuff. Sigh…

    I think my children are a little odd.

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    • I think all children are a little odd! I never understand either, a few days ago when my daughter had a couple of friends round, she asked me to come and have a water balloon fight with them – you’d think that would be a prime situation where she would worry that I would embarrass her, but no, that was ok. But if I ask her friends whether they want any drinks or snacks, she’s furious at me for showing her up!

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  24. Keep embarrassing the kids!

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  25. My kids say i’m embarrassing but then usually join in whatever I am doing
    It is my husband that is always embarrassed by us. The way I look at it, if he’s the only one at the table in the restaurant NOT wearing a napkin on his head, he’s the one that looks silly

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