Amazing how that little creature that used to believe the sun and moon set in your eyes, now thinks you are a complete and utter dork. A few years ago, you were cool. They thought it was neat that you played in the pool with them. Now, they would rather be caught naked than be seen sitting anywhere near you while you are wearing a bathing suit. (Even if it’s a cool tankini and you still have the body for it)! This will leave you wondering what the hell happened to your coolness. Especially since you made a conscious promise to them years ago, while they were still in diapers – that you wouldn’t be one of those embarrassing mothers (as your mom was). And you try very hard to uphold your ‘coolness’ in the presence of their friends and otherwise. Only to find out on their Facebook page that you’re not a cool mom, at least not as cool as you think.
So what is really going on?
According to clinical psychologist, David Sabine who runs a practice focused on tweens and teens, it isn’t you. What it is that makes your presence so uncool is the fact that your child is entering a stage of emotional development that makes them feel like the center of the universe. (Certainly, you have noticed that) But in their eyes, being the center of the so-called universe means that the entire world is looking at them, watching them, and waiting like a falcon to swoop down and catch them (or you) doing something embarrassing. Have you noticed that if they have a zit, are forced to wear something ‘not cool,’ or are sporting braces, sprouting boobs, growing hair or otherwise growing up – they cower and cringe fearful that the whole world is going to notice their flaws? And you too, are (or at least have the potential to be) one of those flaws.
The teen years bring about so much transformation on both physical and emotional levels, that insecurity is quite simply part of the process. And while it may hurt your feelings to find out that you are no longer cool, rest assured that your teen doesn’t really feel that way. Obviously, few teenagers want to really find out how cool mom and dad are (or were) and they definitely don’t want you to do something in public or otherwise, that would bring the watchful eye of Big Brother down upon them more than what they feel it already is. Yes, they have it all wrong. Yes, you love them more than their friends do. Yes, you have their best interests in mind. But still, you wear mom clothes, drive a mini-van, have wrinkles, and have completely no idea what its like to be a teenager (at least that’s what your child thinks) – so you couldn’t possibly be cool.
The answer, contrary to what you might think – is not to try and be cooler. Your flaws are simply magnified with your children right now. According to experts, what you should do, instead of being hurt or angry with your child for feeling the way he or she does, is be compassionate and inject humor and communication as a tool to deal with your uncoolness. For instance, if your teens think that the way you dress is an embarrassment – then ask them (seriously) to go to the store with you and help you find some cooler styles. When you do something subtle in public that embarrasses your child and they say, “You’re not cool mom,” with that resounding pout and brat like attitude, say something funny to deal with it, rather than demand respect. For instance, “you’re right; I am the uncoolest mom in the world. I think I am going to start wearing moo-moo’s to your school!” Or, you could sarcastically point out another mom, who is definitely less cool than you are – and say, “Hey I could have a mullet like her!”
The point is, that even though your child thinks you are embarrassing, it isn’t YOU that has changed. It is your child, who is changing. So many teens and tweens are just wildly uncomfortable in their own skin, and definitely don’t want to add to that discomfort by having parents that embarrass them as well. And while, you may be tempted to do some pretty ‘cool things,’ such as allow them to throw a great party, drive them to the mall and drop them off, let them go to a high school party or something else to improve your cool status – you shouldn’t! In fact, you should remain you, mom jeans and all, and should definitely not be caught up in trying to be the coolest mom on the block to get your teenager to like you better. At some point, your teen has to realize that you are who you are, you look the way you look, and the rules and expectations in your home stand, – regardless of ‘how cool’ your teen thinks they are.
If you are too swayed by trying to be a cool parent, you will lose sight of your parental responsibility. Sure, it sucks eggs to feel like your own child hates you or is embarrassed to be seen with you. But this too shall pass, just like every other phase that you have faced with your child before this has. And while it isn’t exactly nice to go out of your way to embarrass your child because you think it’s funny, realize the fact that should you choose to…you can! Threatening to honk the horn or blare an old Johnny Cash (Wait, is he cool again?) song as you drop them off to school can be just the incentive your teen needs to finally clean up that room. Hey, why not capitalize just a little?