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My son looks at me as if I can do no wrong. I can make funny faces, dance crazy, chase the dog, trip on pooh, run over my foot with the stroller, run over a curb. Nothing embarrasses him. Do we teach our children to be embarrassed or ashamed?

So, why do I hear so many parents responding to their children with “stop that, you are embarrassing me?”

I was at H&M, and a cute little teeny teenager was shopping with her Mother. She had found some, well in my head I was thinking they were really cute, but apparently the Mother wasn’t sure. I ended up in the change room at the same time, and the your teenager had come out, I am gathering she was doing something, but couldn’t see as I was still in the change room. All I heard her Mother say, “Stop that, you look so embarrassing, change before someone sees you.” Well, at that moment I wanted to come out of the change room and tell the Mother that she just might be embarrassing her daughter for having a bad dye job, and an acid wash jean jacket, but I didn’t.

I often hear this “stop embarrassing me” or OMG my child was crying and it was so embarrassing”

Then there are the conversations I grew up with “what would your Father think” or “you aren’t possibly going out like that are you?” or  my favorite was my friends Mother in high school  “lets not discuss this again, I don’t want to know, it is just embarrassing” – my friend by the way, came out of the closet (still don’t get that term or where it came from) and his Mother never quite wanted to believe. Just don’t understand what is the embarrassing issue, why use those words, does it not bring unnecessary shame?

Now that I am a mother, I often wonder why those words were so heavy, is it because we are born without embarrassment and basically learn this behaviour? I know I will never want to utter them. All I want is a happy child, I don’t care who he ends up loving, what colour his hair is, how he dresses or what career path he takes, because I don’t think any of that really is a true reflection of me or my ego – come on, those words “you are embarrassing me” isn’t that just about your own hangups and ego that you are reflecting on your own children? When they do something like break the law (or in my friend’s case get their stomach pumped in grade 10 for alcohol poisoning), aren’t those words the last thing they really need to hear.

It weighs heavier on a child than you think. It isn’t the nicest thing to say, nor does it really fix the root of the problem. When my child is having a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store, well, it is kind of my fault for pushing his limits, or not getting food into him fast enough, but it is far from embarrassing. When it used to be said to me, I felt humiliated and shamed into thinking that my individuality did not count, that I was merely an extension of my parents.

So, the next time you are travelling, and your child is having a meltdown, don’t feel embarrassed, apologetic, take it in stride because it happens to everyone. Sometimes, no matter how well prepared you are, they are simply going to have one.