So why are teens so embarrassed of their parents? Well, a major reason is that teens don’t find their parents to be cool or stylish (sorry but that is the truth and in a way it is because you are dressing and acting age appropriate!). Teens often view their parents as “old” and generally not trendy and often times simply old-fashioned. Now, that does not mean that as parents you really are not cool and stylish, it just means that your teenager’s perspective is that you are not. As for old-fashioned…well…often teens think some of your rules are old-fashioned and that maybe you are not dressing like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Biance or Jennifer Lopez so therefore…you are old fashioned! The point is that most of the time you are not doing anything at all to make your teenager embarrassed, however, because of the developmental stage they are in they just view you as embarrassing. They don’t want to be seen with mom and dad at the mall, they want to be dropped off down the road from the dance, they don’t want you to come in to pick them up at a friend’s house and they certainly don’t want you being involved in school events! They are trying to gain autonomy and having you too close by makes it seem like they are still quite dependent on you (which they are but don’t want to admit).
There are certain situations where teenagers do have a valid reason to be embarrassed of their parent and these involve situations where parents intentionally embarrass their teen. I used to have a friend whose mother would drive us to dances. We would ask that she park a little ways down from the front door so that people did not see us getting out of her car, which is something a lot of teenagers do. However, she thought it was funny to pull right up front, let us out and then honk the horn and yell, “have a good time”. Talk about embarrassing!!! To her it was really funny and looking back now it seems really funny, however, as a teenager who was insecure, easily embarrassed, trying to gain independence and “look cool” it was anything but funny. I have also heard stories where parents show embarrassing pictures or tell embarrassing stories about their teenager to friends or boyfriends or girlfriends. This is generally devastating for teenagers who work tirelessly to build up an image and positive sense of self. There is a good chance that embarrassing stories will spread like wildfire around a school and the fear of that happening causes some teenagers a lot of anxiety and unnecessary stress.
The following are a few helpful tips for parents who are feeling like their teenager is embarrassed of them:
- Don’t take it personally. It is a phase that teens go through and the majority of children begin seeking the companionship of their parents again in their early to mid 20’s if not a bit sooner. Many adult children consider their parents their best friends.
- Don’t try to explain yourself or prove yourself as “cool”. It is not worth it and remember – it is likely not about anything specific you are doing. Not trying to justify yourself will save you from further frustration.
- Check to make sure you are not actually doing anything embarrassing to your teenager – especially in front of friends. If you find that you are (telling stories about them, babying them in front of friends, etc) you may want to think about changing what you are doing. Even though it is likely harmless, remember that teenagers are extremely sensitive and insecure and can be devastated by such situations and your teen may really appreciate the changes you make.
If you are a parent who is fortunate enough to not have these issues (and it is not because your teen views you as a friend rather than a parent) congratulations and I would love to hear your comments about how you have been able to do this and am sure other parents can learn from it as well.
For more parenting tips and our free audio program designed specifically for parents of teenagers go to How To Parent A Teen (www.HowToParentATeen.com).