Oh yes. If you are a parent of a teen, then you have inevitably and most likely unintentionally embarrassed your teen. I know. I know. You were just trying to be friendly and playful, but it didn't work out. And now, your teen is saying that she doesn't want to be seen with you anymore.
Well, I have spent hundreds of hours talking to teens in my office in my role as a clinical psychologist. I have spoken to teens in a variety of group settings about their embarrassing moments with their parents. I have now taken it one step further and have gone to the streets to ask both teens AND their parents about embarrassing moments. Have a look and see if you can relate to these parents that I spoke to on Main Street.
Look, I know that you just want to get along with your teens and that yes, you were considered "cool" at one point. Keep in mind, though, that your teens are not supposed to see you as "cool." In fact, the harder you try to be that way, the more likely you are to embarrass them. Teens are very self-conscious. The world revolves around them. You need to take somewhat of a back seat during their teen years so that they can figure out who they are and develop their identity. Nope, I am not suggesting that you start ignoring them. Instead, I am suggesting that you love, nurture and guide them, but try very hard not to embarrass them. You see, if you embarrass them too much they will start avoiding you even more and what parent really wants that?
In an effort to help you avoid embarrassing your teens and in an effort to prevent your teens from getting upset with you so frequently I have tips to help you avoid embarrassing your teens. Stay with me and read on.
1. When you are with your teens, less is more. Specifically, listen more and talk less. Observe. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Hear the teens out. If you say less, than you are less likely to say that awkward thing and are more likely to learn about your teen. Sounds like a worthwhile goal;right?
2. Please try to avoid drawing attention to yourself. This is especially true when your teen's friends are around. Your teens think that everything you do is a direct reflection on them because they don't yet see themselves as having a separate identity. So sit back, avoid singing in the car, don't tell work stories and keep a low profile. The background is a good place to be.
3. Remember not to bring out baby pictures or other items about your teen's childhood or private stories. You see-your teens want to fit in not stand out in any way. I promise you that when they are older they will be delighted to look at the baby albums with you. Now, however, is not the time.
4. Never ever try to act like, dress like, talk like or in any way try to be like a teen. Teens want you to be a parent, not a friend. Trust me implicitly on this one. I know. The teens tell me.
5. Do not tell stories of your unruly behavior during your teen years. Your teens do not want to know the details of your relationships. This is not a good way to connect to them. They want to think of you as an adult. When they are in their 20's they will be more open to hearing about your experiences as a teen. For now, keep them tucked away.
Good luck. I know that it is impossible to avoid embarrassing your teens in every situation. My goal today was just to help you minimize the frequency of those moments!