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10 Ways Parents Can Embarrass Their Kids

I’m of the school of thinking that a few humbling moments every now and then are good for keeping one’s self-esteem in check . . . and also for providing great fun for others.  I try to make sure that my kids will never be too big for their britches.  Yes, that’s my job.  And here are 10 of the ways I most enjoy keeping my kids’ esteem in check.

  • 1. Drive them to school and yell (loudly) that you love them (don’t forget to use goofy nicknames) as they get out of your car. Make sure to do this within earshot of their classmates. For example, my 12-year-old son freaked last week when I blared, “Goodbye, Pooky Bear! Have a great day at school! Mommy loves you!” He turned beet red and walked quickly (nearly ran) into the school building. It was beautiful.
  • 2. At the beginning of any group activity, lick your fingers and smooth your kids’ hair or wipe an alleged smudge of their cheeks. Don’t forget to smile adoringly while you’re doing this. (This one really gets ‘em. )
  • 3. Adjust your kids’ clothing in front of their peers. For some kids, merely talking about their clothing is enough to freak them out a little bit. My 13-year-old daughter, who is embarrassed easily, was made quite uncomfortable yesterday when, in front of her friends, I told her that I thought her “cute little outfit (was) just adorable.”
  • 4. Compliment your kids in front of people they are trying to impress. My 12-year-old son has a nice group of friends, all boys’ boys. They play football, talk sports, and can’t wait to drive muscle cars. Several days ago, while the boys were “hanging out” at our house, I said to my son, “Oh! You are such a handsome young man!” (Then, I pinched his cheek a little for good measure.)
  • 5. Affectionately pat your kids on their bottoms in front of their peers. At our house, every kid gets patted on the bottom as I send them out the door. It’s part of my goodbye ritual. The fact that it embarrasses them when they’re with their friends is just frosting on the cake.
  • 6. Take candid pictures of your kids and their friends during routine activities. This evening, my son and his friends were playing with the Wii when I told them to lean in so I could get them all in the frame of the picture I wanted to take. I’m pretty sure my son rolled his eyes.
  • 7. Give your kids goofy little gifts . . . do it in front of their friends. I gave my teen daughter, who thinks she is soooo grown up, a stuffed animal that was reminiscent of one she had when she was a child. Her friends giggled. Oh, and one time I gave my son a whoopy cushion. After his momentary discomfort, he made great use of that gift. Clearly, I didn’t think that gift through thoroughly enough.
  • 8. Fuss and fawn over your kids every once in a while. “Would you like me to get you a straw for your juice?” “What can I do to make you more comfortable today, precious child?” These and many more sentences are tremendous embarrassments to my kids.
  • 9. Sit next to your kids and put your arms on the backs of their chairs. Maybe even lean and kiss them on their cheeks after a while.
  • 10. Tell stories about their younger years to people they are trying to impress. For example, my 13-year-old daughter has a crush on the boy next door. That’s a fantastic opportunity for merriment. While visiting with his mom, I made sure to mention in his presence the time that my daughter, as an infant, threw up on the Vice Presidential candidate who was on a whistle stop campaign in our community. That’s a great story!

Some day, my kids will have their own kids.  I hope they fondly recall all these embarrassing moments and pass them on to their kids.  After all, that’s part of the joy of parenthood.

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