Hands up if you’re an owner of an embarrassing parent! Does your mum swear by camouflage crocs and blaring Susan Boyle out of the car stereo just as she pulls up to pick you up from school? How about your dad, is he convinced he can twerk better than Miley Cyrus? Oh and don’t even get us started on dad jokes.
The good news is you’re not the only mortified teenage girl in the world; take comfort in knowing that while you can’t see it ending now, your cringe-y opinion of your ‘rents will change… in a few years.
To prove it we enlisted the help of psychologist, Chief Happiness Office of The Happiness Institute and rad dad, Dr Timothy Sharp, to help you realise that even though they make you cringe they’re still awesome people.
“Seriously? You’re really embarrassing me right now.”
If you’ve uttered these words to your parents through a forced smile while giving them a death stare in public it’s safe to say you need some help understanding the mind of an embarrassing parent. Dr Tim admits it’s something anyone with parents (EVERYONE) goes through - it's a normal part of the individuation process. As we move into our teens we start to form our own opinions and define our individuality. “Adolescence is a period when the child gradually becomes the adult and in the process, separates from his/her parents and family,” Dr Tim says. “This process of separation involves differentiation.” So basically, from this point until we hit our twenties, in our minds everything our parents do is totally not cool.
Humiliating, yes! But they have good intentions. Promise.
When it comes to bagging out your ‘rents for being dags, it’s important to remember they were teens once too, and it’s practically impossible for someone to be embarrassing all their lives. Meaning, there was a time when they had to deal with their own pair of humiliating folks. Dr Tim wants you to know that more often than not your parents are coming from a good place. “Despite what you might think they aren't deliberately going out of their way to embarrass you,” Dr Tim says. They’re just being themselves. That is, unless they attempt to Gangnam Style in front of you and your friends, then they’re more than likely trying to be funny and embarrass you.
Should you break it to them?
It’s highly possible your parents don’t have a clue they’re embarrassing you, and if you’re a normal teen you probably have no problem yelling at them. But when it comes to telling your mum and/or dad their cowboy hat isn’t appropriate attire for 2013 or their rust bucket of a car isn’t doing anything for your reputation in the playground it’s important to be careful how you approach this - because if your parents could afford (or cared to own) a designer wardrobe or a top of the line Range Rover they probably would. Dr Tim says parents have feelings too so breaking the ‘you’re embarrassing me’ news to them needs to be met with caution. Instead of flat out telling your dad his hat sucks try offering him a solution. Surely he owns a hat that doesn’t make him look like he’s from the desert. In this situation it’s important to put your parents behaviour into perspective and ask yourself why can’t they be themselves? Feeling embarrassed by your parents stems from a fear of being judged by your peers because of their behaviour. But if you really think about it your peers are going through the exact same parental dilemmas, trust us, you’re not the only teen in the universe with cringe worthy ‘rents. “Just know, this feeling towards your parents is normal and a part of growing up that will almost certainly come to an end one day,” Dr Tim explains. So it’s probably best to let them be.
On the other hand, if your parent’s behaviour is bordering on inappropriate (e.g. racist, rude) it’s in your best interest to bring it up with them. Dr Tim suggests trying to calmly and rationally explain what it is you don't like and why you don't like it. “Try to come to an agreement about what's appropriate and reasonable in various contexts,” says Dr Tim. “Suggesting positive alternatives as opposed to just criticising negatives is also always a good idea.”
According to internet law (we’re 97 per cent sure this is a thing) your mum and dad are allowed on social media, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about them joining Facebook, Tweeting you and uploading embarrassing pics of you to Instagram, ask the Internet! Dr Tim admits the reason why they’re on Facebook isn’t to stalk you (even though they might every now and then) it’s because almost everyone uses social media these days. “It's increasingly difficult to function in the world without Facebook so parents are just doing what everyone else is doing in 2013,” adds Dr Tim. “The challenge for all parents and teenagers is to negotiate and agree on how you communicate with each other using social media.”
What’s the deal with all the dad jokes?
According to Dr Tim dad jokes are in the job description. OK, he’s joking, we hope! But seriously, humour is all about perspective, so it’s no surprise you and your dad/uncle/granddad don’t laugh at the same things. “Look at it this way, a father and his daughter are at least a generation apart so it’s only natural to have different perspectives,” Dr Tim says. So Dr Tim, you’re a dad. Tell us a dad joke. Pleeease? “Q: What's green and has wheels? A: Grass. I lied about the wheels!”
C’mon, they’re not that bad…
The great thing about humiliating parents is everyone has them. So you’re never alone in embarrassment, ever. Plus, without them you wouldn’t be here - reading this witty piece of prose – and how much would the world suck without you in it? Lots. So thank your awesome parents for us!