Our children go through a strange and wondrous metamorphosis as they grow up. Besides the physical and intellectual changes, their relationship with us changes. Things that once caused belly-laughter in our kids turn into those moments that embarrass and even mortify our kids. Or, we do or say something in response to a normal parenting situation which causes our kid to squirm. How we handle our child’s reaction to those things can go a long way towards determining the overall environment in our homes. What happens between those times and why embarrassing moments are OK is the subject of this post.
More than anything else, I think our kids’ views of us are influenced by their friends. It becomes crucially important to our kids to fit in with their peers, so their words, thoughts, and actions are shaped by those they hang out with. All it takes is the opinion of one child to change your child’s outlook on any number of things. Sadly, this same action can dramatically impact a child’s self-esteem and opinion of her own skills and abilities.
It is at this point that our kids begin to change. They begin to fit in and do the things to be accepted in their group. At this early stage in their life, the concept of cultural norms begins to form in their brains. But, as we look around us, do we really want our child to become slave to the cultural norms? In my opinion, nobody finds their best possible life by looking outwards – they find it by looking inwards.
This is where our response to their reaction becomes critical. It is extremely important that we remain true to ourselves. We certainly don’t try to embarrass our kids in front of their friends. But, the more we adapt our behavior to the cultural norms, the more we validate our kid’s adoption of the cultural norms. Be the parent that you need to be, and be yourself. Your child needs to know that you’re an individual and that you aren’t swayed by the opinions of others.
If it hasn’t already happened to you, it will. Here are some ways that you will embarrass your teen. Maybe you don’t intend for it to happen, and maybe sometimes you do.
- Making a big deal over that first date, camera and all.
- Pulling out the baby pictures in front of the first boy/girl friend.
- Using their middle name in front of their friends.
- Making those goofy faces that used to delight them when they were younger.
- Telling them “no” when their friend is standing there asking them to do something.
- Having “the talk” – you have to at some point, right?
- Dressing badly – there are just some times when Mom hasn’t got her makeup on or Dad is wearing those old sweatpants.
- Nicknames – enough said.
- Hugs and more hugs – especially around their buddies.
- Talking about your teenage years – after all, your life can’t possibly be as cool as theirs.
- Showing up at that party unannounced.
- Belting out the lyrics of your favorite song or getting your groove on like you did back in the 90′s.
- The first time you administer a home drug test – because you want to trust them, you need to know.
I know you guys have others for this list. These are just a few that I could think of quickly. You’ll see some silliness in the list above. That’s part of life and part of you being an individual. While your child will roll their eyes at your silliness, those moments are the ones that they will remember fondly as they become adults with their own kids. It’s OK – be who you are.
Application Question – Do you worry about the impression you make on your child’s friends? Are you playing it too safe and being too conservative? Do you find yourself compromising to satisfy your child?