Outside his high school, Miles Morales exits his dad’s vehicle—a police cruiser. His dad, a New York City police officer, calls out after him: “I love you, Miles!” Miles shrugs and mumbles, “I know, Dad,” before heading toward the school among his peers. But his dad, who won’t let him off that easily, turns on the squad car’s lights, squawks the siren, and announces through the car’s PA system, “You gotta say I love you back.” Miles is mortified, and understandably protests. He doesn’t want to do this in front of his friends. But his dad doesn’t give up, so Miles finally responds: “Dad, I love you.”
Since most of us don’t have a police cruiser like Miles’ dad did in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it’s a lot harder to embarrass our teenagers in such dramatic fashion. But there are times we embarrass them anyway. It usually happens without thinking and contributes to tension in our relationships. But when you avoid making your teen embarrassed, you build a healthier, closer relationship. Here are 5 ways you accidentally embarrass your teenagers.
1. You tease them about relationships.
For teenagers, simply talking to someone they have a romantic interest in is terrifying. Their hearts may be pounding, their palms sweaty, and they might feel lightheaded. When you tease them about their nerves, the other person, or the relationship, you make them feel even more self-conscious. What your teens need is a dad they can talk to about anything—and a dad who’ll be there when they’re heartbroken.
2. You treat them like a little kid.
When your kids were little, you talked to them like they were little kids. Now that they’re teens, you can’t do that anymore. If you’re using a tissue to wipe gunk off their faces or being condescending, your teen will find that embarrassing. They will feel disrespected because they aren’t little kids but you’re treating them like they are. What your teens need is for you to embrace opportunities to treat them like adults while still teaching them the responsibilities that come with adulthood.Teenagers need rules, and you need to be there to give them consequences when they test or break them.
3. You discipline them in public.
Teenagers need rules, and you need to be there to give them consequences when they test or break them. But the way you discipline them makes a big difference. If you can’t restrain yourself and so you punish them publicly, you can leave them feeling humiliated and resentful. Waiting for an appropriate time and place to discipline shows how much you respect them. What your teens need is a dad who is willing to have difficult conversations and give them consequences behind closed doors.
4. You overshare their pictures.
It’s common for teens to cringe as their parents pull out the baby albums when guests came over. Today, many teens must deal with the fact that their whole lives have been documented on social media by parents who don’t know how to use privacy settings. Some of these photos are best kept in the family. When teenagers don’t know where or how their pictures are being shared, it makes them feel self-conscious. Who is looking at their photos? And which photos are they? What your teens need from you is discretion about when and where you share their photos. This will help with their peace of mind as well as teach them how to be healthy online.
5. You don’t take care of yourself.
Many teenagers are overly concerned with their image. Dads can sometimes be the opposite. Maybe you go out without combing your hair or showering or while wearing pajama pants. This serves to amplify your teen’s sense of self-consciousness because he or she doesn’t want to look like you. When you do even the bare minimum to take care of yourself, you are more pleasant to be around for everyone and, at the same time, you model healthy hygiene for them.
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 5 Times Teens Grow Right Before Your Eyes.
Sound off: What are other things you can do that accidentally leave your teen embarrassed?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you wish I did more often with you?”