Ok parents, it’s time for us to talk but what happens when your kids hit the teenage years and those little stories that you think are so cute, that you like to tell at family gatherings, used to be amusing, but now that your kids are teenagers, are just embarrassing for them.
‘Sally started doing her own laundry and forgot to use fabric softener and walked around school all day with her panties stuck to the back of her sweater.’
‘Michael was leaving piano lessons and as the instructor was saying good-bye he called back, “yup, love you too!”’
‘Mikaela went to her first party last weekend, at the house of the boy she has a crush on. (Wink wink) She didn’t realize there was onion in the dip and had an allergic reaction and had to lock herself in the bathroom for 30 minutes barfing before the boy’s mom called me to come get her.'
As adolescents they have one primary concern…..how do I present myself and what are people thinking of me? This is not narcissism, this is the natural development of the adolescent brain. They are so self-conscious about how they present themselves in the world that often those little things that you think are so cute, and funny, and charming, they think are their gigantic failures. When you point them out at the family dinner all they do is feel embarrassed that now you’ve told everybody in their family what a failure they are.
I’m still encouraging you to share stories about your kids around the table at Thanksgiving, or Easter, or Christmas! I’m just suggesting that you share the stories about the awesome things that they have been doing and maybe leave out the parts that I know you think are charming, and for you just make you love them even more, but they find them enormously embarrassing. Leave out the stories that may make they feel like those stories make them unlovable. If they want to tell that story, let them tell it as THEIR story and not a story you tell ABOUT them. Let’s try and pump them up share the stories about what awesome humans they are.
Log those ‘embarrassing’ stories in your memory and share them when they are 25. Share them with them first as memories you have and that they might find them funny too.
Remember, if you tell a story and the person you are telling the story about is not genuinely laughing along, then no matter how much you protest this, you are laughing at them not with them. That really goes for anyone and everyone.
So let’s let’s prop them up.
Let’s share the awesome things that they’re doing.
Let’s let them share those embarrassing stories if they chose to. Let them be their stories to tell.