Proud parents show off their kids, children are embarrassed by it all – that’s how the public relationship between parent and child has always worked. Only now the oversharing and cringes aren’t limited to family gatherings or social functions – the online world means the whole world is invited.
It’s not just the horror of parents posting old photos – Timmy on his first potty, Maya crying in the bath – it’s revealing intimate facts to anyone who’ll listen: “Theo’s off school today with the runs!”
Kids may think parents do it to deliberately show them up, and that can be true – there’s a certain satisfaction in making children squirm, but in most cases, the humiliation heaped upon them is unintentional. What certainly is never planned is when it’s the parent left feeling utterly shame faced.
We asked parents across social media channels to share their embarrassing stories to compile this list of parent messaging fails you really want to avoid...
When sharing isn’t caring
“I’ve been part of our local community Facebook group for years,” reveals Joanne. “Last year a member put up a post about post-natal blues, so I decided to show some solidarity by admitting when my daughter was born it got so much I went on a cruise on my own to get my spirits back. The very next post was from my daughter, who’d I forgotten had joined the group because she never posted. ‘How long was this cruise?’ Followed by, ‘Wait, is THAT why you stopped breastfeeding me?’ All of this in full view of everyone, endlessly clicking on the crying with laughter emoji...”
Way to spoil the surprise
“Do you remember how cagey we used to be about sharing personal stuff?” Katy sighs at the memory of less troublesome days. “Then Facebook happened and now we tell anyone anything. I literally ruined my kids’ Christmas surprise by asking for recommendations about Lapland on public forums. I was all ‘Hey kids, you’ll never believe where we’re going!’ And they were like, ’Lapland. We know you didn’t book us the dogsledding with huskies because it was too expensive...”
Yes, children do laugh at you
“All dads tell their kids silly stuff about themselves, right?” Jez checks, correctly. “I found out my son made a Tumblr account literally called ‘My Stupid Dad’. What really annoyed me was that my self-deprecating jokes were actually funny, like I don’t know, when I was a kid I used to think my teachers lived in school and wondered why they never needed the toilet. But when he told it, it was, ‘my stupid dad thinks teachers live at school and don’t use the toilet’. I mean, okay, it sounds the same, but his version is just mean. And you can’t use my own joke putting myself down against me, can you?”
Make no mistake
“Life must be so much easier with people with uncommon names,” says Jay. “We have about five people called Raj in our family, and I couldn’t tell you how many people are just called Uncle, or Aunty! We’re on a WhatsApp group and my mate asks if my cousin Raj is single. So I include Raj and she immediately starts to flirt shamelessly. We happened to be talking about Nando’s and she was like all ‘How sizzling hot do you like yours’, and I have to say I’m impressed by Raj’s quick-fire comebacks. He’s normally quite reserved but he’s sure got game when it comes to text flirting. I cheered him on. It took us far, far too long to realise I’d added my son’s friend Raj by mistake.”
Check what you’re ignoring
“Don’t ever try to play the ‘scatty mum doesn’t get technology’ routine,” warns Melissa. “I wanted to avoid my son’s invitation to dinner with his girlfriend’s parents for reasons I won’t go into, so I pretended I simply didn’t see the messages by sending random GIFs instead, you know the first one that pops up? I figured he’d think ‘Ha ha, mum can’t work her smartphone, bless, kind of thing’. On the day, he and his girlfriend are at the door. Her parents will be along shortly. What was going on? Turns out he’d asked if they could come round for dinner to OURS, even double-checked it, and my response was a GIF of a dancing bear saying OH YEAH BABY!”