Let’s be honest, it’s a parent’s mission in life to be embarrassing for their kids. Whether you’re trying to be the coolest Dad in town or are sticking firmly to the values your parents and grandparents instilled in you, you can guarantee the next generation will find your efforts are anything but cool.
You probably know that exasperated tone of voice only a teen can utter “Mu-um! Really?!”
While your son or daughter may want to be the star of the show amongst their peers, they don’t want it to be because their parents draw unnecessary attention. With the end of year school events – sports days, annual prize-giving and other requirements for you to attend school, most kids dread their parents ‘showing them up’.
Rule 1: These school events are about them – not about you.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve worked out diligently at the gym and have an amazing six pack – cut off tops to show it off are not going to win you any brownie points at your kids’ sports day – regardless of how hot it is!
Don’t be tempted to wear outfits designed to impress the other parents, because anything that makes you stand out from the crowd is going to be frowned upon by your child. Stick to smart casual, comfortable and conservative.
Also, even if other parents are close friends, don’t be tempted to get into conversations that have nothing to do with the event. There’s nothing worse than your child coming to you excited about their performance only, to have to admit “I missed it.”
Rule 2: Support, but don’t scream. If your child is competing there’s nothing wrong with cheering them on – and of course you’ll do that. But no leaping up and down or anything embarrassing like ”Go get ‘em, tiger!”. And don’t be that parent who causes a scene if your child is pipped at the post. The teachers will decide whether the result is fair – no amount of fuss from you will change that and your child won’t thank you for it.
If your child is receiving a prize at school prize-giving, a proud smile and enthusiastic applause is perfect. Leaping to your feet and shouting anything will have your child rushing off the stage in embarrassment – don’t spoil their special moment.
Rule 3: Be sure about how your child feels about public displays of affection. If their friends are watching, big hugs, slobbery kisses and any pet names may not be received with the open arms you hope for.
Some kids are fine with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, others find this excruciating. Either have the discussion at home before the event about how they feel or let them take the lead. The older they get, the more uncomfortable they seem to get with public demonstrations of affection. Of course, there are exceptions, but best to err on the side of caution.
Rule 4: Be supportive, regardless of the outcome. Not everyone is sporty and your role is to reassure them that they have not disappointed you if they haven’t done well. You know they’ve done their best and they should feel your support.
If they haven’t won a prize, then tell them you know that they have worked hard all term and that’s enough for you.
If you think your child is not doing their best, that’s a conversation best had in private, so no recriminations or comments like “If you spent as much time on your school work as you do on that video game …” at the event.
By now you may be wondering what you CAN do. That’s easy:
- Focus on your child, not on other parents
- Enjoy the event
- Let your child know you’re happy
- Glow with pride