You’ve felt it; your parents felt it; your brothers and sisters felt it; even David Beckham’s kids feel it: that desperate urge to curl up in a hole and deny that your parents have anything to do with you — or that you could even be the product of such people. Being embarrassed by your family comes with the turf of middle childhood.

 

And the sooner you realize that you will absolutely (and most likely unknowingly!) do something unforgivable in your child’s eyes, the better. It will make those first death stares and shrieks of outrage easier to take. Although these moments are normal — and can usually be shrugged off — there are ways to avoid upset and still do the job of mom without causing total relationship breakdown.

 

Know when to act like you’re not there. Say you’re driving carpool to soccer and girls are swooning over Justin Bieber. Chime in with a swoon of your own and you risk a stony silence, followed by moans of disgust! Best to leave this one alone. No one wants to think of their parents going gaga over anyone.

 

Avoid PDAs. Your son may have rocked his solo in the school concert, but save the gushing and the hugs and kisses for home. If your enthusiasm gets the best of you in public (hey, you’re a proud mama!) and he lashes out, don’t take it personally. Instead, try to acknowledge his discomfort: “Ouch, okay, seems I timed that wrong/badly/went too far. But next time, please try a more gentle, ‘Mom…’.”

 

Be polite but firm. You’re bound at some point to overhear your child and her friends make a nasty comment about someone else. And even though it may leave your kid red-faced, it’s completely appropriate to tell her she’s out of line and that you don’t want to hear meanness in your house. Or simply pipe in with: “How would you feel if someone was talking about you that way?” and walk away. In this case, a little embarrassment is definitely warranted — and worth it.

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