My mom never rarely embarrassed me growing up.
I’m not sure if I was just really hard to embarrass or if I was just fortunate to have an awesome mom (I’m going with both), but it’s not something I experienced with her often.
My dad on the other hand, different story.
To be fair, he wasn’t horrible. I know his heart was in the right place, and he didn’t always intentionally set out to murder my social status, but there were times, and those time are all memorable.
For example, my first dance.
I was in middle school. 8th grade.
My parents had driven me to BFF’s house and we’d walked over to the school together, but for some reason they insisted on picking me up after.
The shindig was slated to end at 10 and I discussed the pick up with my dad before he dropped me off…
Dad: Come right out front as soon as this thing is over. I don’t wanna be sitting around all night.
Dad: Make sure now. I want to beat the traffic.
Dad: I’ll be right up front. First car.
Me: O. K.
It was about 9:40 when I was just finishing up my first ever slow dance with a boy I decided I did NOT like (he let his belly touch my belly while we were dancing and I was not for that) when the crowd over near the door began to murmur. People were moving away from the window and a bright light was causing us all to shield our eyes.
Apparently someone had driven up to the back of the school, into the courtyard where we usually stood for recess, and was obnoxiously shining their headlights through the windows into the auditorium.
Everyone was annoyed. And the dance was officially ruined. Because, ummm, 13 year olds can’t dance, belly to belly with each other, while a spotlight shines on them.
Teachers went out to address the situation. Even they knew that you can’t just drive your car up to the auditorium. And then shine your headlights into it. During a school dance. Or ever really. Because it was a courtyard, not a parking lot. And you can’t drive in courtyards.
Also, thanks Dad.
I recovered from that incident, but it took weeks at least.
When it comes to embarrassing your children, some things can’t be helped. I expect The Dudes to color in shame when I scream and run along the sidelines as they score touchdowns. I know they will “Awww, Mom” me when I make them pose for the 75th pre-prom photo in a row. My public hugs and kisses are generally met with bowed heads and zero interaction.
Those I unavoidable parts of growing up. I will cheer for them at games. They will be the subject of my photos for the rest of my natural life. And I will hug them in public if I want to. But, I’ve taken a parental vow to never, ever, EVER embarrass my child without cause (it’s not like I was late, he was early!) and that includes with social media.
I know how difficult it is to manage that arena, as a family blogger, I struggle continuously with finding the balance between telling my story and exploiting theirs (that’s a story for another day).
So, let’s start with the basics…
Don’t Be Embarrassing: 7 Things Middle School Parents Shouldn’t Do Online
1. Post naked pics of their kids. Certainly not current ones, but baby ones are a no-go too.
2. Comment on their kids’ friends’ pics. I feel like an occasional, “You look gorgeous,” or a like or two every so often is probably okay. But constantly liking and commenting on their posts is both embarrassing and a little inappropriate. You’re not your child’s friend, or friends with your child’s friends so don’t get caught up in acting like it. I have an open profile online so I know that some of my son’s friends follow me. I’m cool with that, but I’m also conscientious.
3. Bring up online activities to their kids’ friends’. For example, do not say to your son’s sorta-girlfriend, “Oooh I saw that on Instagram.” It’s sorta weird when you say it to your grown up friends and even more weird when you say it to your kid’s friends. I checked on this one and he said it is 100% a please no. As in, “Mom, please no, I’m begging you not to talk to her about her Instagram feed. It’s weird and so are you.”
4. Chastise their child in their comment sections. If you stumble across an inappropriate post that your child put up, go ahead and remove it (you should have access to their accounts) or talk to them and have them do it. It doesn’t make you a better parent if see something distasteful or catch them doing something they shouldn’t be doing via their social media accounts and publicly shame them over it. In fact, public shaming is probably not ever the answer that will make you a better parent.
5. Share intimate details about their home life online. “Look who’s going through puberty…” “First bra!” “This one with the attitude.” Are all photo captions I have seen and wish I hadn’t.
6. Tag them in posts without asking. You don’t like it when people do this to you, your kids like it less.
7. Be a bad online citizen. I make it a point to not get into arguments with people online, especially not people we know in real life, who I may accidentally run into at Target, or at my son’s school because she winds up being his teacher next year. I live by a strict if-you-don’t-have-anything-nice-to-say-hide-that-person-or-log-off-and-read-a-book-instead policy because 1) I think it’s a pretty good life policy, and 2) I want my children to live similarly and them seeing me engage inappropriately with someone online makes me have to be all “do what I say not what I do” and I try to keep that to just instances where they catch me eating candy in the closet before dinner.