Guest Blog: How to Deal When Your Parents Embarrass You

By | September 6th, 2011 | 41 comments

by Roni Cohen-Sandler, Ph.D.

Chances are, your parents sometimes embarrass you. While some seldom mortify teens, other mothers and fathers seem especially skilled. Many girls complain of moms who wear ridiculous outfits, bombard their friends with questions, or treat them like toddlers. Dads can be embarrassing when they make lame jokes or use awful nicknames.

While some girls lash out and get into trouble, others hide their feelings and stop inviting friends over. But there are better ways to handle these situations. In some cases, you can choose to speak up, say how you’re feeling, and ask your parents to stop embarrassing you. Try these strategies:

If it’s not serious, forget it. While babyish nicknames, lame jokes, and dorky outfits can make you cringe, they’re not serious. It’s just that, like most teens, you’re probably already sensitive to what people think of you. So it’s easy to think your parents can make you look bad. Be honest; aren’t you embarrassed just by them…looking at you, existing, and breathing? The truth is, though, nobody else cares about what your parents say and do. If it’s minor, give them a pass.

If their actions are valid, deal. Sometimes parents are humiliating—and yet, you can’t really get mad at them. For example, girls usually hate when their parents insist on calling the parents of friends having parties. Or if you’re the one hosting, it’s embarrassing when your parents actually come out of their room and talk to your friends. Even worse, they might send one of your friends home for breaking rules. But remember: it’s their job to keep you safe. If you have caring parents, being embarrassed may be the price you pay for having a social life.

Define what’s embarrassing. Between these extremes are situations that you’ll need to think through. The first step is deciding what exactly is embarrassing you. Then you’ll know what to say when you talk to your parents. Are they:

  • Violating boundaries. Do your parents friend your friends on Facebook? Do they answer your cell phone when you’re not around or text your BFF to find out where you are? If so, it may embarrass you because they’re not respecting your right to have your own relationships.
  • Disregarding privacy. When parents talk about things you consider personal, like what grade you got on your science project or the PSATs, what part you’d auditioning for in the school play, or a fight with a friend, having your privacy violated probably upsets you.
  • Making you stand out. Do you cringe when your mom or dad compliments you to friends or relatives (“Hasn’t Morgan filled out nicely?”), especially if they exaggerate (“Jamie is the best pitcher in the league”)? Do they ask you to perform (“Play that song for Grandma!”) or show off (“Tell your uncle what your English teacher wrote on your paper!”). The last thing you want is people staring at you or judging you…

Now that you have a better idea of what’s causing your embarrassment, you can be clearer when you talk to your parents. To broach important topics skillfully, use these guidelines:

1. Choose a good time and place. Rather than ambushing parents when they just come home for work or before they’re about to go to sleep, ask when they’re available to chat and find a private spot.

2. Speak respectfully. Even if you’re hurt or outraged, use a pleasant tone of voice, don’t accuse, and avoid words that’ll push your parents’ buttons. When you speak respectfully, they’re more likely to really hear your message.

3. Ask for what you want. Explain how your parents are making you feel, and ask them directly to do things differently. For example, try, “It embarrasses me when you tell our relatives private things. Could you please ask me first?” or “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t put me on the spot with the relatives.”

Although parents might think your embarrassment is no big deal, when you handle the conversation thoughtfully and maturely they’re more likely to listen and take your message seriously. Plus, you’re perfecting important skills that you’ll surely use someday soon with friends, teachers, or roommates.

Roni Cohen-Sandler is the author of Stressed Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure. To sign up for Dr. Cohen-Sandler’s free e-newsletter, Parenting 21st Century Teens: Issues and Solutions, visit www.RoniCohenSandler.com.

41 Responses to “Guest Blog: How to Deal When Your Parents Embarrass You”

  • F says:

    I’m ‘ the baby of the family’ & I like it that way but my mum always talks about boys in front of my older brothers & dad and I get reallly embarrassed I ask her to stop & she says ” it’s not something to be ashamed of” and I’m like yeah but u don’t need to tell everyone on the planet!! She really pushes my buttons sometimes

    • Chrissy says:

      Omg sameeeee. Its really embarrassing today I was going to the mall after school with 2 other guys and 2 other girls and then my mom comes and when she past by us she started driving slowly and the 2 guys thought she was a stalker or smt like that so i am very afraid to go to school now:(

  • lillllle says:

    when guests come at home, my mom and dad forget me as if i dont exist. she says things that i only tell her. they keep me aside. if they serve people cake, then they dont even ask me whether i want it or not.

  • Jemma says:

    My mum keeps saying i like someone but i don’t she tells anyone that comes to our house or whoever asks or doesn’t. she forces me to wear the things she likes but i don’t like them i’m 12 and i always feel like i’m left out and i fell like shes doing this just to make me feel like this she buys the clothes without recipes so i feel like i cant put them back and i don’t have any clothes that i feel like i like. i know it sounds stupid but i feel like she just does it for attention.

  • Eli says:

    I am going camping next week with only my dad and sister. We do it annually, last year I was 11, now I’m 13. I want to go around on my own cause my dad is really embarrassing towards me. He’s not overprotective- he lets me go around on my own. But he thinks i dont like him, when really he’s just embarrasing. WHAT DO I DO?!

  • Connie says:

    My dad starts singing at my party in front of my frends it’s REELY enbarsig

  • Jose says:

    My mom told me today at my xc meeting, in front of all my friends, that I cut her in line! Um, mom? I thought we weren’t in kindergarten anymore!!! Plz help!!!

  • Stacy says:

    My mum she makes me embarrassed in front of my family. She calls me stupid wouldn’t get into college and never lets me have fun. I can’t go see friends I am stuck in a dark room doing work for no reason. I need someone to talk to because no one will understand. My mum embarrasses me all the time regarding this. Please help

  • Emily says:

    I was on Skype skyping my friend and she barges in and says that I haven’t asked to Skype and he hangs up and tells my friend that I’ve don’t the wrong thing and have to go. I cant get over it. I apologised and she still looks at me weirdly. Help Me someone please!?

  • Molly says:

    Hi, plz help! Next Tuesday my mom is chaperoning. And I have a boyfriend who never met my mom! How will my besties think of her? I don’t know what to do plz help!

  • Stephanie says:

    Dear Amber,
    Just tell her the truth! But don’t be to harsh on her. Try to let her down easy, and I hope this helps! Good luck!

  • Stephanie says:

    Dear LOL LOLA,
    I think your parents can’t treat you like that. I think you should talk to them and ask, WHY? WHY are you doing this? PLEASE STOP! Maybe it will help. I don’t know. Good luck!

  • LOL LOLA says:

    My parents are going up to my piano teacher today and saying that after 6 years we are stopping the classes. They said they are going to embarrass me like hell and say all these falsities like oh, I’m not interested in piano at all and I’m a loser who’s irresponsible. UGH

  • amber says:

    My mum is the definition of embarrassment. She makes me push her around in a wheel chair, acting like a teenager in front of my friends or rubbing her but crack (in public) because she has a sore back is REALYYYY embarrassing. Does anyone know an easy way of telling my mum that she is embarrassing?

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