FlourishAnyway is a psychologist, music lover, and awkward mom to a teenager.
Adventures In Awkwardness: Embarrass Your Teen Like a Pro
Hey, No Offense
Has your teen had The Talk with you yet? Not that talk. I'm referring to the one that goes like this:
Mom, I'm going to say something that will hurt your feelings. But really, it's for your own good. I hope you're ready. Here goes anyway.
You're not as hip and happening as you think you are. You've seen better days. I mean, you were actually young once, right?
Well, that cool factor fizzled out years ago. Believe me. Now you're like flat soda, last week's bread—you're just another old person trying to act young. And it is so, like, awkward!
Now that we have that out of the way, can I have $20? And what's for dinner? Oh, and I need help with my math homework.
So Mom, Which One Were You?
How to Embarrass Your Teen Like You Mean It
If your teen is like mine, that's their basic message. Sure, some may soften the blow, but really, their point is the same. You embarrass them, no matter how hard you try not to.
So I say let's just quit the charades. If you're going to embarrass your teenager anyway, at least be good at it. And that takes practice, so let's start now. Let's throw ourselves into this!
Here are tips on how to embarrass your teen like a pro.
Required Attire: Step Out In Some Stylin' Mom Jeans
Tip 1: Look the Part
I think my daughter and I started early with this my-parents-are-so-embarrassing routine. She was a mere six years old when she declined my offer to be her roller skating partner at a class party. (Seriously.)
Her reasoning? I wore my jeans too high. Yes, I apparently wore Mom jeans.
My husband enjoyed this moment of truth way more than I did at the time, but therein began my adventures in awkwardness. (Or had they already begun years previously, and I just didn't know it?)
Mom Jeans: Hike That Waistline Way, Way Up!
Required: Mom Jeans and Keds
When it comes to awkward and embarrassing parents, it's essential to look the part. Assess your Mom uniform. Push all the stylish stuff aside. That crap will work against you, my friend.
You need several pair of high-waisted jeans—not too many—and they need to be cut generously through the hip and rear. Pleats or an elastic "give" are a special bonus. They communicate that you don't take your mission lightly.
Mom Jean Superstars
Rising Waistlines: A Laudatory Goal
Perhaps you're lucky enough to know a master in the arts of awkward and embarrassing motherhood—one with a waistline in the netherland of her boobs. Salute that gal's hard work and follow her lead.
It may take you a few years, but keep tugging at your waistband. Your objective is to raise your natural waistline by hiking your jeans up as close as possible to your armpits.
Casual Goes with Everything
Likewise, your mom uniform will require sweatshirts and Keds, too. The most successfully embarrassing moms are the ones who take "going casual" seriously, whether on a dinner date, to the PTA, or to the grocery store. Really, what's the difference?
I find that yoga pants can also be delightfully awkward, especially if you're like me and you don't even do yoga. Hell, I don't even exercise.
If you're really serious about your mission, you can take to wearing track suits, especially those velour outfits. And if you wear one with "JUICY" stamped across your jello behind, well that's bonus points, dear sister.
President Obama Defends His Mom Jeans
I Nearly Bowed Down Before This Woman
I once volunteered at my daughter's school with a woman who took looking the part of the embarrassing mom to a whole new level. She was a master. Royal even.
This Queen and I each sat in folding chairs selling tickets for a school performance (not behind a desk, mind you). My fellow embarrassing mother wore tight spandex, as she was headed to work afterwards. She was obese, but the gal was totally owning her attire.
As we sat with our chairs angled towards the kids, I noticed that the Queen's legs awkwardly didn't close. She was effectively giving the kids a wide-angle crotch shot. (Nice one, mom!)
And then I saw it—couldn't help it, really. An enormous rip perhaps four to five inches wide exposed her pink underwear. I nearly bowed down before this Queen of Embarrassing Moms. This woman was freaking awesome! She even managed to embarrass me a bit.
Reader Poll: What Would You Have Done?
Nope, Too Stylish
Tip 2: Know the Lingo (#KnowtheLingo)
Any self-respecting Awkward Mom must know the lingo. Hashtag speak is one of my favorites, as it provides excellent opportunities for awkwardness. I verbally add the word "hashtag" to random phrases until my teen begs me to please just stop.
Partly, it just amuses me that at some point the "pound sign" got renamed the "hashtag." What's up with that? Here's an example of hashtag speak:
"#DudeDontHurtMe, because I was just trying to be #FreakingPopular with you, daughter dearest, by #SlingingYoSlang. Hey, #ComeBackHere. I need you to #SetTheTableForDinner."
Mom, Did You Know Daniel Boone When You Were Little?
Sling the Slang
Knowing the lingo doesn't require that you keep on top of current trends in slang— because really who can? You also don't need to try too hard to be accurate. Who can do that either? In fact, it's more fun and embarrassing when you just go with it.
Select some of your favorite teen slang terms like "bro," "chill," or "YOLO" and inject them into ordinary conversation. When it comes to being awkward and embarrassing, remember that more is always better!
Here are some examples to get you started:
Inject Teen Slang Into Everyday Conversation: So Embarrassing
|What You Mean||What You Say|
Your delays in doing your homework are making me angry. Start now.
Yo, if you don't do your homework then Mama gonna go all gangsta on you, 'lil biznatch. I said #DoYoHomeWork.
We're vacationing this year with your grandparents. It will be great.
My homies, we gon' go on a greycation. It'll be so chill. YOLO.
Honey, look what I got at Goodwill: sneakers to go with my great jeans.
Aww bro, I popped me some tags. Got me some fetchin' rides to go wit' dese sweet Mom Jeans.
Stop being so dramatic.
Don't you get all emo on me, my girl. #RelaxMyFriend
You're looking confident and attractive.
You got yo swag on. Lookin' chill.
That's ugly or inappropriate.
That's so rachet. Come here and let Mama fix you up.
Tip 3: Dance like You Don't Care ... Because Really, You Don't
If there's one thing the Embarrassing Mom loves to do, it's dance! She knows all of yesterday's moves: the Electric Slide, the Sprinkler, the Running Man, and oh yes, the Cabbage Patch (also known as "churning butter"). Memba them? I thought so! Madonna moves earn you bonus points!
Recall the dance moves of your youth, then modify them for your current fitness level. Just get your booty moving, or at least your shoulders and arms.
Go ahead and shake. Shimmy. It doesn't matter if you're in the car, the living room, or at a public event. If you hear music—any music—consider it your opportunity to shine! And don't stop until your teenager is not talking to you. You got this, Hot Mama!
Tina Fey and Michelle Obama do a nice job of demonstrating in the following video:
Funny Video: Evolution of Mom Dancing
Tip 4: Bring Lots of Attention to Yourself
The most essential ingredient in inflicting your parental awkwardness is that people take note. Get people looking your way. Your teen will remember you for it for years to come.
My teen has given me feedback that my loud and sometimes ill-timed laughter is my awkward specialty. Why, thank you! (I have been known to giggle at a funeral and even did it when my mother got a colonoscopy, but those are different stories.)
Other options for bringing attention to yourself include
- exhibiting over-enthusiasm
- talking to people everywhere you go (don't forget to tell them who your child is in case they miss the connection), and
- telling stories about your teen from early childhood. Bonus points if it's a secret nickname or a potty training story.
Tip 5: Just Sing, O Awkward One!
Go ahead, O Awkward One. Hit the high notes of your favorite songs. Off-key is just fine. Add dramatic hand flairs—feel that music—for extra embarrassment. And don't forget to do this in front of an audience.
What Did They Sing?
I was a latecomer to the awesomeness of Bruno Mars' music, and being the awkward mom that I am, I bought his CD (the old fashioned kind that comes from Target, not the one that is downloaded from iTunes).
Before my teen could drive, I'd alternate ol' Bruno and the roaring fabulous Katy Perry. I'd play them over and over in my car so I can get the words semi-right. In doing so, this awkward mom has become a virtual musical prison on wheels.
If my daughter wanted to go anywhere, she understood her chauffer's background music! She'd tell me I was "so two years ago" (cue eye roll). To this, I eagerly offered, "Would you prefer Taylor Swift?" No one could claim I'm inflexible!
Woo-hoo! This Is How We Do It!
Tip 6: Document Your Fun on Facebook and Other Social Media
Social media is the ideal venue for displaying your maternal awkwardness. You know what they say: the Internet is forever!
But think of it this way: there's no way your kid has time to post promiscuous selfies or get into other trouble with the embarrassing level of attention they're getting from you! Way to go, Awkward Mom!
Photo Bombing My Selfie
While word is that Facebook is "like, so 2008" because the old people like you ruined it, there's also plenty of opportunity for embarrassment on Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and other sites. Take advantage of the chance to make a difference in your child's life! One well-timed post can really make them quite the talk of their friends. (That's just what I hear.)
Make sure to "friend" or "follow" your teen and post often about family events. Tag your child's friends in photos to make sure they know you're an involved parent. Comment on photos and posts of your teen's friends, especially those that seem to, unfortunately, escape other parents' eyes.
You can also have a "Throw Back Thursday" where you post baby photos of your child with an endearing story. Dare your child to unfriend you. Seriously, who would do that when you're this much fun?
Documenting Her Fun with Race Car Driver Danica Patrick
Everyone Has Awkward Selfies: Why Not You Too, Mom?
Tip 7: Show Your Love with Public Displays of Affection
Teens love to push affection away—unless of course, it's from other teens. However, when it comes to rejecting hugs, the Embarrassing Mother doesn't get too offended when her kids turn their heads and wrinkle their noses. It just means they'll be back later, on their own terms.
The Awkward Mom also doesn't give up. If teens can declare their love for each other after a week or so, surely they can eek out an occasional "I love you" for the Mother who'd do anything for them—including subjecting herself to all this embarrassment just so she could be hopelessly unhip.
Dad, You're Awkward, Too
In the end, awkwardness unites more than it divides. That's because awkward is something we all are, no matter the age or stage.
As we navigate new life phases—whether adolescence or middle age—some of us simply choose to embrace our natural awkwardness rather than deny its existence. In embarrassment we can find humor as well as one another.
Awkward moms unite!