Five ways in which parents embarrass their teens

Five ways in which parents embarrass their teens

The other morning as we were walking to the bus stop I noticed that H’s collar was askew. Without thinking about it I reached out to settle it and he drew back like I was going to bite his head off.

‘What?’ I said surprised
‘Nothing. Just don’t do that,’ he said
‘Do what?’
‘Fiddle with my clothes. It’s embarrassing. I don’t even know why you come down to see us off to school. It’s not like we’d get lost from the building to the gate,’ he said trying to roll his eyes. He still can’t (roll his eyes) by the way, and I caught myself thinking how cute that is and stopped myself right there because apparently a smile that says ‘You’re cute’ is also embarrassing.

Seriously?? After puking on me in a flight, throwing a tantrum in the mall, flaunting underwear before guests, smearing banana mash all over me at a party (on my good top too, and I had to keep wearing it till the end of the party and pose for pictures in it), he has the audacity to say I embarrassed him

Obviously, the teens are on their way.

Everything I do these days seems to embarrass them – the way I talk (too loud), the way I walk (too slow or too fast), the way I dress (too bright, too strange), the way I laugh (too loud, again), everything. So here’s a list of the top five things that parents (like me) do to embarrass their teens – a sort of ‘do not do’ guide.

1. Fuss over them in public

Make that ‘any physical contact in public’. Do not settle their collars or their hair or tuck in their shirts. Don’t even brush off a speck of dust from their noses. They’re cool leaving it there all day rather than having their mum brush it off. And God forbid you reach out for a hug. They’ll probably not talk to you for a decade. Which might not actually be such a bad thing.

2. Talk loudly

This is such an unfair expectation considering that the only reason I talk loudly is because they refuse to listen any other way. To hold it against me is rather, as I said, unfair. But then who’s listening? When they have friends over, they can scream and shout and that’s okay but it still holds for you. You cannot even hum softly to yourself, not even in your own room.
Once during a football match a mom noticed her son’s shoelace had come undone and shouted for him to tie it up. There was such silence after that you could have heard a pin drop. Mercifully it wasn’t me.
Corollary: Cheering for them during a game is also a no no. Don’t do it. Their friends can, but you cannot. Don’t ask me why, just don’t do it.

3. Correcting them/their friends

I have a few house rules that I’m rather strict about and one of them is the use of proper language. So if I hear a ‘shit’ during a game I protest or if one of their friends asks me for a glass of water without a ‘please’ I point it out. I mean, their friends are like my own kids, right? So if I can correct my children I can correct their friends too, no? However, all I get for my pains are the most eloquent stares and then an earful later on. ‘Everyone says ‘shit’,’ they’ll tell me, ‘even teachers say it.’

All I’ll say is ‘My house my rules’.

4. Talking about baby stuff

This one is big. You see a toddler walking towards you and suddenly you remember yours when they were little. And you get all emotional and misty eyed and you strike up a conversation with the toddler’s mum, ‘When H and N were babies…,’ you begin enthusiastically until you catch sight of your not-a-young-one-any-longer giving you the daggers. So no baby stories, no baby poetry, no tales of cute antics or cute pronunciations, nothing. No nicknames too, please.

Note to self: Destroy blog before they turn thirteen.

5. Wear anything different

Once I went to pick them up from school and I wore a salwar suit, which is different from my regular jeans/trousers. And I got a, ‘What are you wearing? It looks funny.’ Funny? A salwar suit? I mean half of India wears it. Then one day I wore a dress and got the very same reaction. The thing is you’re not allowed to stand out. If you don’t normally wear makeup, you need to continue not wearing it, if you don’t normally wear heels, you cannot begin to do so now.

Basically you shouldn’t be heard or seen. You’ve to become invisible till they tide over their teens. Find a rock and get beneath it.

Here’s a better plan, though – This is the time for delicious revenge. So do your own thing and totally enjoy it. Suddenly we have the power. Between them embarrassing me and I embarrassing them, the latter is definitely the lesser of two evils, from my perspective of course. Moreso since I had all that practice as a mom to toddler twins.

PS: I have a good mind to fish out a wedding sari and appear in all my finery for one of their PTMs. Wouldn’t that be just priceless?


I’m taking part in the Bar-A-Thon – the fortnight long Blogging Challenge and really stretching the prompts this time round :-). The prompt for today was ‘Lesser of two evils’.

20 Replies to “Five ways in which parents embarrass their teens”

  1. Hahaha! I would want to know all about that moment when you’d go in a wedding saree for the PTM. I think, they’d disown you!! 😀
    Earlier, hugging A at school would embarrass him but he is pretty ok now. Thank God for that! Calling him by his nickname in front of his friends is still a big NO!
    Guess, we must continue to do what we love to do with them considering that they have given us hell earlier 😀

  2. This is so true Tulika. You described it so vividly. I think we are all guilty of embarassing our children at one time or another.

  3. I agree with Shailja- your posts are to-wait-for; infact you and Anamika are the only two “parents” whose posts I do read; otherwise I steer clear of all parenting type posts 😉

    You are so verbose with some awesome dash of humour – I think you dont even realise how witty you make such trials seem to the rest of us. Hugs for putting up with it all with so much love and care. Dont destroy the blog- ultimate revenge ; better still, be diabolical and tell them you will soon be sharing their cutesy stories with diaper pics – unless you get one hug and one I love you every morning while they leave for school 😉

    I am rooting for the wedding saree + finery and a pic for all of us to whistle n hoot 😉

    1. Oooh – diaper pictures is such an idea! Though I just might have to put up with a full scale rebellion after that :-). Thanks Shalini for the warm things you said. Somedays that’s all I have to go on blogging.

  4. I absolutely loved this one, Tulika. With a 14 yo at home I know exactly what you say. Been there and to tell you the truth, it’s only getting worse for me these days! But, anyway taking it all in my stride and moving on…:D

    1. Yup, that’s all we can do – take it in our stride. But I really am tempted somedays to go all out and embarrass him thoroughly, just for the fun of it :-).

  5. Hahaha.. its a cute phase. I watch my 13 year old from my balcony when he waits for the school bus. He is so embarrassed by it, he refuses to look up at me or wave.

  6. haha ..the corollary was too good.
    I also want to know if N does that too?
    You know I always kissed my Papa on his cheeks when he went to drop me or pick me up. In fact, I still do it. I think girls don’t get embarrassed with their parents as much as boys do. What do you say?

  7. This one, I must say, brought back my own memories of being a teen. I remember how I said almost ALL of these to my mom & she’d always be left perplexed throwing her hands around to ask, “What’s wrong with that all of a sudden? We’ve been so since you were born.” LOL

    I really understand this now even if my child is still in kindergarten, when she tells me not to do certain things for her the regular way. Your rant is so on point & I could feel both you & my mom while I was reading it, especially the parts where you described how the embarrassment your kids caused to you were meant to be undone, but not yours. That was exactly what my mum used to say then.

    I just loved this post, Tulika & I don’t know, but it has made my day!

    1. Thank you Ashwini. I’m glad you liked the post. Somehow I cannot remember being so worried about the way my parents behaved. Perhaps it’s more a boy thing.

  8. I WAIT for your posts these days and the minute I see them in my inbox I pop over 😀

    H is hilarious! Is N also this way? I think Gy is still okay with hugs and kisses even in public. No idea when it will stop but I hope it doesn’t. Of course, there are a LOT of other things I am mentally ready for. Oh and the EYE rolling 😀 I remember that from last time. So cute! (oops, don’t let him see that I said that!)

    You know what? Embarrassing them is the least we can do considering we gave birth to them. I say go ahead and have a ball 😀

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