The Blog

'Embarrassing' Parents: Cringey or Cool?

Whilst it is understandable that anything that combines parents and 'getting jiggy' are quite possibly the most mortifying situations to be in, other activities that made the 'Top 10 Cringe Index' seem questionable.

A recent survey by the TV channel Gold asked over 2,000 people what their most embarrassing parent moments were.

Unsurprisingly, topping the list with 57% was watching love scenes in films with parents. We've all been there. You're watching a movie, you're next to your Dad on the sofa and then suddenly the characters start doing that. Mum shuffles awkwardly, picks up the remote and fast forwards. Shoot me now.

Closely behind with 48% was parents discussing the act- no child ever wants to hear that! If you suspect this is about to occur go for the fool proof, 'Oh is that the phone ringing?' 10% also deemed discovering 'dodgy' search histories as embarrassing- or just plain wrong.

Whilst it is understandable that anything that combines parents and 'getting jiggy' are quite possibly the most mortifying situations to be in, other activities that made the 'Top 10 Cringe Index' seem questionable.

For example, 'public displays of affection' between parents. Granted, you don't want to see a vigorous match of tonsil tennis between your Ma and Pa, but surely its actually quite sweet if they still want to hold hands after all this time? 36% don't agree, ranking parent PDAs as number 4 top embarrassing parent moments.

It's hard to remember that your parents are people too and they don't live to serve you and pander to your every need. They had lives before you- I know, right? And they were 'young' once too! They had friends, went out and got drunk then- so why shouldn't they do that now? It seems 21% don't share this view, as drunken parental behaviour makes the top ten list. But please, don't begrudge your dad that next pint or your Mum that second G and T- some of my Mum's best meals have been when she's had a few too many glasses of vino, and New Year's is definitely more fun once the 'adults' have popped the fourth bottle of champers. Tipsy Pictionary anyone?

Number 3 on the list is parents using 'youth language' such as YOLO, LOL and OMG. I can see the potential for embarrassment here, but to be honest surely it's just funny? Most of the 'adults' I know still think LOL stands for 'lots of love', setting the scene for a truly hilarious text conversation between one of my friends and her mother. My friend had unfortunately just failed her driving test. She text her Mum the bad news, to which she got the reply...

'That's a shame darling, never mind. There's always next time, LOL.'

As you can imagine my friend was quite upset thinking her mother was mocking her misfortune, when actually she was trying to be sweet. Hilarious communication error. As for OMG, I'm pretty sure mine think it's a medical procedure and after trying to explain 'Gangnam style' to my Dad I'm not ready to introduce them to YOLO.

In any case, it can be seen as quite a sweet attempt to connect with the younger generation, which I think should be applauded. Why shouldn't they keep up to date with the latest trends? So what if your Mum wants to read '50 shades of Grey'- every other woman on the planet has read it. She probably finds it just as cringey that you are reading it- you are her little baby after all. And whilst we're on the topic of Mum, 8% rated 'parents copying dress sense' as embarrassing. But surely it's better that your parents look vaguely fashionable rather than frumpy and old fashioned? Fair enough humiliation could occur if your Mum likes to rock the crop top and pedal pusher look or if your dad has a particular love of sweater vests- but to be honest no one should be wearing that.

Number 7 on the list was also clothing related- embarrassing cycling or swim wear, specifically MAMIL tendencies (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). I don't think anyone should wear lycra, middle aged man or not, but if your dad wants to go for a swim or cycle then what else is he supposed to wear? It'd be more embarrassing if he rocked up to the swimming pool in a wetsuit or went swimming fully clothed at the beach. As long as everything is contained (i.e. no mankinis or speedos) there's not an issue, and here's a thought- next time he goes on a bike ride or swim why don't you join him? It might just save him from that mid-life crisis that 34% think is embarrassing.

It's easy to assume that this 'causing humiliation' is completely one sided, with your parents never being slightly embarrassed by you, their little darling. But think of all the school choir shows, rubbish football matches, lost races at sports day and terrible acting performances in school assemblies you've put them through. I'd find it hard to believe that your parents have never had a little cringe at your expense, but they still love you right?

So, there's no denying that everyone finds their parents the most embarrassing in the world. But, before you start having a go at them for humiliating you yet again ask yourself if you'd think it was embarrassing in any other person's parents. The chances are you wouldn't bat an eyelid if your mate's parents did it. You might actually think they were funny or, shock-horror, cool. At the end of the day YOLO and TOLO (They Only Live Once- clever, huh?) so cut them some slack- they're your parents, you love them and they're the only ones you've got.

Written by Anna Pitts, a Marketing Assistant and Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Her work involves PR and outreach and writing informative, interesting advice based articles for graduates and students. Follow her on twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.