12/04/2013 03:11 pm ET Updated Feb 03, 2014

How Teens Embarrass Parents

I write frequently about how parents embarrass teens. I've even literally walked on Main St. with the crew from and asked teens about their most embarrassing moments with their parents. (Have a look here.) Teens find their parents embarrassing for a variety of reasons ranging from the way they dress to the way they sing. Today, I think we should turn this sense of embarrassment on its figurative head and talk about how teens embarrass their parents. Yep, you read that correctly. We are going to discuss some common ways that our teens embarrass us. Pull up a seat and stay with me as I review some common themes here.

1. They reveal our secrets publicly. This includes talking publicly about our not-so-glamorous private behavior. Consider some examples: We get complimented on how calm we are. Our teens reveal how often we lose our cool at home. Yikes. Or consider this scenario: We get complimented on the delicious dinner we have served our guests. Our always-honest teens reveal that we warmed up a store-bought meal. So much for creating the impression that we were slaving away in the kitchen.

2. They remind us that we are not so cool. This includes pointing out that our singing is off-pitch, that we are messing up the lyrics or that they just don't want us to sing when they are in the car with their friends. Perhaps you are a father who has just returned from the gym and you are still wearing your shorts and T-shirt. It is a little embarrassing when your teen suggests that you get dressed before their friends come over. You were just thinking that you looked pretty good before your teen reminded you to get dressed, right?

3. They like to point out that we are adults, not kids. Well, the teens are right. We are adults, not teens, but they are pointing this out with a subtext: The subtext is that we should act, dress and behave in a more age-appropriate manner. So, maybe for a moment, we felt young. They remind us of our age and that it's not our turn to behave like a teenager anymore. They are right, but hey, who doesn't enjoy feeling like a kid again?

4. They display bad manners, talk disrespectfully to us or even ignore us in front of our friends or others. This is especially embarrassing when this sort of behavior is not typical. Our teens sometimes like to push our buttons when there is an audience around because they know that we are less likely to get angry at them in public.


5. They catch us engaging in behavior that we tell them we don't approve of and, of course, they call us out on it. Remember the last time you were gossiping on the phone with a friend or the last time you were unusually judgmental? Your teens are paying attention and will be happy to point out how what you say and do aren't consistent. Be careful.

I would love if you would share some more examples of how your teens embarrass you. We can have a lot of fun with this topic!