What is the science behind roasting papadas

"Dad, you are embarrassed!" What teenagers are uncomfortable with and how parents should deal with it

Everything starts with two arms outstretched. This morning - unlike usual - they don't fall around my neck, but push themselves with all their strength against my chest. And instead of a sugar-sweet “Bye Papa” I get a sullen “No Papa” to hear. "Let it go, Maxi and Jonas are already there," grumbles Timm, twelve years old, and cycles from the front door towards the street. "Hey, haven't you forgotten something?" I call after him. Timm turns around, rolls back - with a scowl, followed by the amused, interested looks of his friends. Annoyed, he builds up in front of me at a distance that is safe from kissing and hugging, hands firmly on his waist. "Dad, that's embarrassing!"

Embarrassing - a word that has recently made a career for our children and easily achieves the frequency values ​​of "cool" and "crass". The next day, Timm's sister Kerstin rolls her eyes at the supermarket checkout. While packing the purchases, her mother tells the neighbor about Kerstin's one in math, the four in history and, above all, that Kerstin's room looks like after an earthquake again, which is why it urgently needs to be cleaned up. “From you, Kerstin”, the 14-year-old hears her mother preach and inwardly steams with anger. She has to get out at home straight away: "I'll never go shopping with you again, that was really bad, not even our teachers are that embarrassing."

We shrug our shoulders at our oh-so-sensitive offspring: "Just don't get in line!" But the two of them no longer allow themselves to do anything and demand a kind of co-determination in terms of manners. The symptoms: rebellion and rejection. Firstly, rebellion against a lot of what we say about children, secondly, rejection of too much physical rapprochement. An important reason for this: with the onset of puberty, “parents are no longer role models, but more and more opponents,” says Swiss child psychologist Allan Guggenbühl. Because young people grope themselves in search of their own life plan. For that to happen, they first have to distance themselves from that of their parents - also by finding their behavior embarrassing. In addition, friends and classmates are becoming increasingly important and determine what is hip and cool.

Parents embarrass you

Our children apparently decide to give us some food for thought - for example on the occasion of the next visit to Grandma. While she smuggles the roast beef, Kerstin and Timm squeeze her after my misfortunes and misdeeds from before. With success. My mother promptly garnishes the Sunday menu with stories that I have long believed lost in the legends of the family: How I supposedly drove as a boy every evening in bed with a self-made car hum to a certain Herr Marke in my imagination. And how, as a six-year-old, I couldn't be dissuaded from thinking with my stomach instead of my head. Oh yes, and that I had smashed all the panes in a garden shed, but wanted my parents to believe that it was going to be torn down soon anyway.

Since that lunch, it has been clear to us: if they want, our children have all sorts of things up their sleeves - especially together with their accomplices grandma and grandpa. Admittedly, the effect of these old camels is like that of a drug whose expiry date has long passed: it no longer works properly, but it tastes incredibly bland. We now realize more clearly how embarrassing parents can be.


What children still find embarrassing

They know exactly what they find embarrassing and what they think parents should absolutely not do. However, parents should not always follow the following "instructions" from their offspring ...
  • "Dad, please don't tell jokes (we already know all of them) and save your clever sayings!"

    "Do not ask what our friends had in their last math test, do not ask where they are going on vacation, do not ask what music they like, ideally do not ask anything!"

    "When friends stay over at the weekend, don't tell us when to go to bed!"
  • "Don't tell me what to wear, especially when there are friends!"

    "Don't talk to the saleswoman about my figure or my clothes when I'm trying on something!"

    "Don't fumble with me in front of others, for example with my hair or because you think I should wear the shirt in my pants!"
  • TV, computer, smartphone ...
    "Save yourself gossip when I watch my favorite series!"

    "No, don't sit down when I'm surfing the net!"

    "Just type in the numbers on your smartphone with your thumb - the one-finger search system with your index finger looks really bad ...!"
  • "If I have forgotten something, please do not carry it to school after me!"

    "Don't keep telling me how good you were at school!"

    "Don't ask me at lunch what we did at school today!"
  • "Never ask again in the restaurant whether there is a children's plate for me!"

    "Don't take my hand when we cross the street!"

    "Don't sing along when Beatles or Bee Gees are playing on the car radio!"



Despite prominent object lessons - unfortunately we are relapsing again ourselves. In any case, Timm thinks: “You got nothing - nothing at all!” Just because we enter his room when his girlfriend is there for the first time? And not only ask her what it should be to drink, but also whether she has siblings and hobbies and how she found the last elementary school party. Timm pissed off: “Send her a questionnaire right away. You are soooo curious. Mega-embarrassing! "He speaks and slams his room door.


No, that's not how we want to be. But what should we do if we are not on the same wavelength as Kerstin and Timm, and do not even feel that way about some things that are embarrassing to them? We arrange an "embarrassment radar" with an integrated tutoring function with our children. You should tell us what is embarrassing - using the example of other parents. And - if it really happens again - with us too.

Children give tutoring

The next day, lesson 1: In the subway, Kerstin pokes me in the side and points to a boy with a bright red head. Next to him his father roars: "Oh Rübchen, we both go to the Bundesliga game all alone in the stadium, what Rübchen is great, Rübchen - isn't it?" Kerstin explains to me that "Rübchen" actually means Ruben, goes to her parallel class and is just ashamed because his father still calls him by nicknames for toddlers. Aha, get it. Then I probably better not mention Kerstin's nickname in public. And certainly not here. He's really cute ...

Lesson 2 comes from Timm after a visit to Kevin from his school: “Whenever we are there, Kevin's dad turns the speakers all the way up, prances around the apartment with sunglasses in his hair to rap from Eminem - really embarrassing. Then he crouches down when Kevin and I suck music videos from the net and keeps saying how 'fat' he thinks them. Dad, I think he'll feel incredibly young with it, but doesn't even notice that Eminem is mega-out, no one says 'fat' anymore and that he's terribly annoying. "

An imperceptible smile crosses my face because I am deeply grateful to Kevin's father, who gave me a certainty: There are parents who are even more clumsy when it comes to embarrassment. After all, we have already understood this much: on the way to their own identity, children under no circumstances need young professional parents who pimp and play the buddy. But why do parents like Kevin slip into this role anyway? Perhaps because as their children mature they realize that they are getting old themselves.

Back to Timm and Kerstin. They expand their self-defined areas of embarrassment more and more. Lately they are no longer ashamed of the fact that we try to turn them into somewhat civilized beings with words and deeds and at least occasionally want to give them a kiss on the cheek. No, in the meantime we are embarrassed as a person and are told this head-on. "Dad, your hairstyle, the bourgeois high-water jeans and the socks - that doesn't work!" Say Kerstin and Timm and ask me if I know the show where old cars are pimped up. "Pimp my car", I answer proudly and regret it in the next moment: "That's exactly what we're doing with mom and you too," they smirk. “We'll go through town with you for a day and dress really cool. And we already know what we call this campaign: Pimp my parents ”- Motz my parents up.

Published in the science section