It’s Inevitable: I Will Embarrass My Kids

While dinner bubbled on autopilot and before the kale would scorch, I grabbed my keys and ran outside to back up the van. My son wanted to play basketball and needed more room to shoot. When I came in, my daughter took one look at my slippers and scoffed. “You went out like that? I don’t even know you.”

These days my mere existence is often the source of embarrassment for my fourth- and sixth-grade kids. Everything I do and say, which used to seem normal, now sets off alarms, panic, and looks of despair.

Evidently I tell too much. I give too many private details to friends, teachers. I should just say my daughter is sick. Nothing else. I should not talk to any parents about my kids. I can understand this. (But I am not convinced my kids aren’t talking about me too.) In general, they would just prefer that I nod hello and move on. If I tell a story about when they were babies or that they cried in a store once, I get “the look” and then I hear it the whole way home.

In the school drop-off line, my kids jump out while the car is still rolling. Isn’t getting tangled up in the seatbelt like a fly in a web more embarrassing than having a mom? All of the kids in the drop-off line get out of a car that a parent or caretaker is driving. I bet some of them are even wearing their pajamas. I at least put on jeans.

When I wear sweats on a lazy day, the kids want to give me fashion advice. I find this amusing since I spent the first half of my kids’ lives gently coaxing them—and failing miserably—through the “that army green shirt doesn’t go with red fleece pants in summer” phase. The “shorts to your knees and socks that meet them” doesn’t really count as winter attire phase was a lovely look in fifth grade.

My kids have walked out of the house looking like they couldn’t decide whether to be an athlete, goth, or nerd, and it would be a fun surprise to see what it all looked like in the light of day. I’ve been out with them like that and smiled as other parents told them their outfits were “interesting,” which we all know is code for “what the hell did you put together there?”

But I know where my kids are coming from, I do, because I was their age once. Only other people your age can give you advice. Parents don’t know anything. They don’t know anything about fashion or the latest trends or a good fit or what could be best for someone’s age or body shape. Pfft.

At that age you learn fashion rules and social behavior by observing, and that can take a long time in some cases. I remember realizing that being seen with my parents in middle school meant I had nothing better to do and no one better to hang out with, no social life. Walking through the mall on a Friday night with my parents and trying to distance myself from them was bad enough. Turning around to see them holding hands was like realizing I wore holey panties in the locker room. Please, don’t let anyone see!

This adolescent terror lasts for a long time. When I went away to college, finding out that my mom told my suitemates to hang around with me because I didn’t know anyone there was beyond mortifying. I had made my own friends my whole life! But I think at some point, you start to realize parents are just embarrassing. They mean well. And you accept it.

I know as a mom, everything I do is subject to scrutiny now. I’m trying to keep in mind that there’s a fine line between sharing too much that’s theirs and sharing what’s mine too. The trick will be teaching them to see the humor and love in it all.

ropes course

OK, sometimes we embarrass ourselves too. Hug that pole a little tighter, eh? A morning ropes course had me in tears.



Filed under Family

58 responses to “It’s Inevitable: I Will Embarrass My Kids

  1. it is our job as parents.

    • Sometimes we don’t have to lift a finger to do it!

    • I’m a single mum and I don’t know if I am excited or scared for my life when my daughter gets to this stage! I remember what I was like to my mum and I pray I got the lucky straw! Me and my mum are the best of friends now and I hope me and my little one grow up to be the same! Your posts had me laughing and are making me aware of what is to come 🙂

  2. So funny. Teenagers are fascinating people. Oddly, I don’t seem to embarrass my kids too much, particularly my 17-year-old who isn’t ruffled by anything. In fact, it’s often the other way around. He’ll head out with sweatpants that are too short and his hair sticking up. He doesn’t care, but I’M a tad embarrassed. My 14-year-old son is always put together though, so one out of two isn’t bad. 🙂

    Nice to see a post from you. Hope you’re doing well!

    • Thanks, Carrie. Life gets in the way sometimes, but I am not gone! I do have one who cares a little more about my appearance than the other, but both of my kids get embarrassed if I act too goofy or say something. It’s hard for me to remember sometimes to be serious and calm when I’m around their friends. No dancing in the kitchen or other funny business when friends are over. That’s only funny when it’s just us. 😉

  3. I told my son that just as it was his job to embarass me, it was mine to do it to him. He would just say “Moooooom” and leave it at that.

    Recently, when a bunch of his friends were over and had just left, jacob put his arm around me and said, “my friends think you’re pretty cool.” And while i haveno idea what brought that, i’ll take it. But i’ll also continue to embarras him.

  4. K. Eley

    It’s funny, as a teenager I swore I would never embarrass my kids the way my parents embarrassed me. Now as a mom, even when I just act normal, it can embarrass them. My daughter likes for me to drive our Jeep instead of the minivan to drop her off at school. I remember clearly at her age how I would duck down on the floorboard of the family car because I didn’t want anyone to see me. I guess it’s payback at how silly I was.

  5. pops

    wait till you become a grandparent – then youw ill have 2 generations embarrassed at you!

  6. You’re a good mom. Just be sure to never do that hold hands with your sweetie in the mall thing – that would be unforgivable.

  7. It comes naturally to me…haha!

  8. Nice of you to be a good sport about it.
    My kids are getting to this stage as well. If you have a moment, check out this post about it:

  9. Hi! love your blog and your comments. My two children are 21 and 31; but so much of this just “brought it all back” and had me laughing! i love your ropes course picture. Keep up the great work!

  10. Lisa

    We’re not there yet. I still get the “your the best mom in the world” notes which I stash away so I can pull them out in a few years when they’re screaming I hate you at the top of their lungs.

  11. Lisa

    I am one of the moms in the school drop-off line in pajamas! 😂

    • I would be! These days it’s just not worth it. I had to pick up my son from school early yesterday. He asked if I knew where to go and where to park. “Well, that’s where the teachers park, but whatever.” I got a visitor’s spot. I think I did OK. 😉

  12. Yeah, my kids should give me much more credit! I wear actual pants to the drop-off line at least.

    My son is in middle school and suddenly just the thought of me merely breathing too close to him and his friends is enough to be embarrassing.

    • I expected it with my son, being in middle school and all. But coming from my fourth-grader, I thought I had a little more time with her. I actually got a shushed “Mom, you are embarrassing me!” from her a few weeks ago when her friend was over.

  13. Loved reading this – gives me something to look forward to ( mine is very young still and long may that continue (he still thinks I am cool)

  14. My first visit here… and so enjoyed it! My son was Gr3 last year and still did the running hug when I picked him up from school… I told him there will come a time he wont want to hug me in public anymore, looking and me with his big brown eyes he said “Never!” I’m holding him to that this year…

  15. I work at my daughter’s school and she won’t even get out of the car with me in the morning!

  16. Pingback: Let’s face it, our parents will always embarass us… | colleenduffyp7

  17. I fear this daily. Thanks for the humorous take!

  18. “Isn’t getting tangled up in the seatbelt like a fly in a web more embarrassing than having a mom?” I love it! I’m starting to see some of this embarrassment from my first grader…. I didn’t know it would start so early!

  19. I actually remember on the rare occasion when my grandfather drove me to school (it was walking distance) that I was mortified to be dropped of. I really can’t even say why because it wasn’t like I was the only one! Maybe I felt like it made me stick out or pegged me as a baby kindergartner instead of a mature 8. I think my brain was broken during all of the growth rewiring.


    Una mamma non sbaglia mai…

  21. Hi!
    Your post has made me wonder…My son is only 2 years I am enjoying most bits of motherhood, supporting and guilding him (or thats what I think am doing). I hope I gradually grow as he does…as his world does….from being his guide to a possible embarassment…It is quite scary though…

  22. sharonah76

    I thought it was my job as a mom to embarrass my children. My five year old already is giving me clothing advice. Admittedly, she is pretty good. If I want to dress nice, asking her what looks best is a good option 🙂

  23. I can say I definitely remember being embarrassed by my parents but at 18, going into 19 soon somehow I realize that they do mean well and they’ve given me pretty much the best of everything, I can’t imagine what life is going to be like after they’re gone, so these days I’m happy they embarrass me, because it reminds me that I still have them here with me.

  24. Hi there! I have just found your blog and reading it made me laugh out loud! I think that I’ve started to embarrass my nearly 10 year old Daughter – just little things here and there that didn’t bother her before but now are no-no’s! Ha ha! no doubt there will be a lot more of that to come in the future for her!! I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

  25. Haha. If it makes you feel any better, I embarrass my 5 kiddo’s quiet often. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. Either way, I kind of enjoy it. 😉

  26. This is such an awesome post – sometimes I feel like all I do is embarrass my kids, thought I have to admit, it works both ways and I cop my fair share too! Thanks for sharing!

  27. Aw I have all this to come! I have made a video of Alpine Boy, aged 6, in which he promises faithfully always to love me, and to still want to hug and kiss me in public even when he’s 16. Can’t wait to show it to him in 10 years’ time. Preferably in front of his friends…

    You sound like one of the cool mums though, I’m sure the embarrassed phase won’t last too long! Xx

  28. I am already experiencing this with the boys and they are just five! the regular chants are ‘mum no kiss here’ or if I try to help “no mum, ill manage” although, when behind closed doors a very different story

    great post

  29. My son is 8 and just starting to care about certain things. I’m not allowed to hug or kiss him in public. Breaks my heart…so not ready for that. Although, I will continue to wear pj’s to the bus stop. Try and stop me. =)

    • My kids are embarrassed that I wave to them from the front door. Who is even watching? They know when I really want to get them, I sing and dance while I drive down the road. That’s payback. ; ) I still get a hug at home, even from a sixth grader. And when it happens, it means the world.

  30. I love this! I’ve been embarrassing my kids for years (now and then I even do it on purpose. 😉 ) Now, at 19 my son will look at photos of himself at 13 and say “Why did you let me wear my hair that long?! I look like a dork!” Apparently he doesn’t remember my pleading with him to get a hair cut and being told that I “just didn’t understand about being cool”! Thanks for the giggles!

  31. I love this. Just came across your blog and this made me smile. My 5 year old has already rolled his eyes at me and is running before I try kiss him at the school gates… I think that’s the start of my journey to uncool. Oh dear. Will keep on hearing what you tell me – and weeping into my herbal tea (uncool – what?!)

  32. It is my job as a mom to embarrass my kiddos. If I don’t, I must be doing something wrong!

  33. Perfectly Crazy Love

    I am officially terrified. I remember the days of trailing behind my parents, keeping as much distance as they would let me. I have to say my mom was “the mom” of my friends…hoping I can earn that spot as well.

  34. My mum once turned up at my school on her bike wearing a pac-a-mac coat – this was at a school wear most people’s parents would turn up in a Jaguar or similar high quality and expensive car. I nearly died of embarrassment. It wasn’t even like the bike was nice either, it was about 30 years old and falling apart.

  35. Hi, I just found your blog. Loved this post. I have two kids and my older one is in kindergarten, but I know they will be all grown up soon and I will soon be the embarrassing mom. Kinda looking forward to it! Hoping im better at handling this phase than my parents were. Also kind of comforting to know, that no matter what culture or background your from…being a mom is the same everywhere.

    • That’s a comment we all need to hear! It’s true. “Being a mom is the same everywhere…” And it’s tough! Thank you. It’s comforting to know we are not alone, isn’t it?

  36. Though my kids have generally thought of me as the “cool” mom, I have not been immune to the stabbing pangs of alienation felt when my son would walk right past me in pubic as if to say “you’re not my mom!” Ouch! Truth is he is now almost 16 and outgrowing this. Still, behind closed doors my children never ceased to snuggle up close (yes, they’d be mortified to know I just shared that little morsel! ….payback!) with me. I think the line between one’s social self or persona and “personal” self never seemed quite as stark as when my children first became conscious of themselves as social beings trying to simultaneously assert their independence without at the same time getting swallowed whole by peering eyes and maintain a sense of loving grounding with home. 🙂

  37. I don’t know why they’re embarrassed though. They even outrightly say in front of us, “mom you’re embarrassing us” when we try to be too cool!

  38. My kids are still little and this new world you describe scares me. My parents were embarrassing, sure, but I’m so super cool! I enjoyed your blog–thanks. I’m new to the blogging world and just posted about (much younger) kid fashion. Please check it out if you have time and let me know if you have any thoughts for me on getting started:

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