Ask Melinda: Embarrassing Parents

Question: Why am I so embarrassing to my teenagers?

It is slightly possible that there really is something embarrassing about you. Do a quick check. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Do you know what your hair looks like in the back? I have observed that some individuals who have perfectly ordinary hair in the front have apparently never noticed the crazy person bird’s nest in back. Do you wear your bathrobe to drop off your kids at school? Do you borrow clothes from your teenage daughter that were clearly designed for adolescent girls—not grown-up women with love handles and muffin tops? Do you have a snorting, obnoxious laugh? How’s your breath? Any of these issues are potentially embarrassing for anyone to be around, not to mention teenagers, the most delicate orchids on the planet. Most likely, however, your perceived embarrassing existence is just that—a false perception on the part of your teenagers.

Here’s how I see it: Teenagers desperately want to fit in. Except in odd, rebellious moments of their own choosing—bright pink hairstreaks or radical clothing selection, for example–teens do not want to stand out from the pack. I don’t blame them one bit. Those packs of hostile teenagers look dangerous to me, too. I think teenagers fear that some of their moms’ far-sighted, budget-conscious, coffee breath boring shtick might just rub off on them if they’re not careful to keep at least an arm length between themselves and the women who carried them around in their very own uteri (that’s the plural; I looked it up) for nine months.

Bottom line: There’s not much you can do about embarrassing your kids, if all you are doing is breathing in and out. Speak politely to your teenagers’ friends, but stay in the background. You are not one of the guys or gals—don’t forget that. Try not to take their embarrassment personally. This is hard, I know. I’ve had my feelings hurt, too. Distribute the hugs and kisses in private. Remember that the entire relationship dynamic shifts if more than one teenager is in the room. Think pack mentality. Finally, be patient. Nobody stays a teenager forever. Odds are they’ll grow out of it eventually, or you’ll kill ‘em—one way or another, it’ll all work out.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Ask Melinda: Embarrassing Parents

  1. Finally getting caught up reading your posts! Laugh out loud again. BTW do you ever type lol? Not me. I like to spell it all out! I’m about to go embarrass my delicate orchid at the baseball pancake breakfast. What will I be doing? Like you said, breathing in and out. Love this blog Mel!

  2. John Wettermark

    I can’t count the times I heard as a child, “Ohhh, how horrible it is when your own children are ashamed of you!” Of course this was always said with great drama.

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