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Teenage son self-conscious and embarrased by me

(144 Posts)
JustGettingStarted Sun 20-May-18 10:35:15

My son just turned 14 this week.

For some time, he has been embarrassed to be with me in public. We used to be really close and he'd always want to spend time with me and talk with me, but for about a year now he's been reclusive in his room, grunting one-word answers, and reluctant to be with me in public.

I'm an ordinary-looking middle-aged (47) woman. However, I'm very tall and I have a foreign accent. If he must go out with me in public, he wants me to wear dull clothing that doesn't stand out. I used to wear heavy metal shirts and doc martins, etc but I won't wear those around him anymore. I will usually wear leggings with a tunic sort of top and converse high tops or something. Apparently, this is weird even if they're invariably in greys and blacks. He also doesn't like me to wear brightly-coloured things.

So I was going to take him shopping for some birthday presents. I already got him a new phone but he has money from his grandmother for a football top and I was going to buy him some new jeans and some trainers, as he's requested. I was excited about a day out in Manchester city centre. I knew he wanted to eat at Yo Sushi and I thought maybe we could even see a film before coming home.

But when I started getting dressed, he kept vetoing anything I put on. I wanted to wear a long black t-shirt dress because it's a hot day. He said that it was too formal (it's jersey! from Primark!). I changed into jeans and a vest with a cardigan. He said "don't you have anything that isn't jeans?" I said nothing that wasn't colourful.

Then he objected to my shoes. I admit they're not the chicest shoes - they're sort of like those cheap black cotton slippers from china, but with a wide toe. Like a cross between the slippers and birkenstocks. But, they're black and incredibly comfortable. I know that nobody will notice them or care at all. But he said that if I wore them, he wouldn't go. So I got fed up and said fine - if you're willing to give up a day out and birthday gifts and jeans that fit over stupid shoes, forget it.

He's gone on before about how I don't look "normal" and said his mate's mum is "cool." Apparently, she's younger and doesn't dress "weird."

I remember being embarrassed by my parents when I was his age so I sort of get it and I try to be not-so-embarrassing. (But my parents honestly were kinda weird. Like, my mother made all her own clothes from odd brightly-coloured yarn and she never combed her hair.)

Anyway, I know that I have an accent and that probably embarrasses him. I'm a bit loud even by my home culture's standards (have toned down after living in England for over a decade) and I know I'm slightly eccentric. But he absolutely refuses to believe that unless I actually make a big scene, nobody will pay us any attention at all. Nobody cares that much about anyone but themselves!

Is this just typical teenage behaviour? Is there anything I can do to make him feel less embarrassed by me?

OhDearMavis Sun 20-May-18 10:37:47

No that's not normal.
Your son needs to realise he doesn't dictate your wardrobe. Or anyone's! Can you imagine what a horror he's going to be with his first partner shock

MeanTangerine Sun 20-May-18 10:37:53

I think being embarrassed by one's parents is normal, and therefore you should not waste any time in trying to lessen his embarrassment. He'll be embarrassed no matter what you do, so screw it. And him telling you what you can and cannot wear is not on.

Backingvocals Sun 20-May-18 10:38:05

I’d be quite tough on this. He’s embarrassed. He can deal with it. You are a person in your own right not just a signifier of his coolness or otherwise.

abstractlife Sun 20-May-18 10:39:48

Oh gosh that is so sad for you! My first got reaction was to tell him to stop being an ungrateful brat! To be honest I probably wouldn't have much patience with my son's if they grow up to be like that.

I have no experience with teenage boys so maybe others will come along and have some more diplomatic responses?!

AornisHades Sun 20-May-18 10:42:59

Every teen ever was excruciatingly embarrassed by their parents. Pandering to it is not normal. I bet his friend is embarrassed in some way about his 'cool' mum.

kalinkafoxtrot45 Sun 20-May-18 10:43:10

Sorry, he sounds a brat! Which can be pretty much par for the course at that age, but why are you allowing him to dictate what you wear? He wants a day out, he shuts up about your clothing choices or the trip doesn't happen.

PoliticalBiscuit Sun 20-May-18 10:43:54

You've tried to accommodate him and change too much, now he doesn't know where the boy dates lie.

Teach him that you don't change yourself for other people. You are who you are. You will wear what you like. It looks good because it is you and honest.

You wouldn't want to teach him that he can demand what his girlfriend wears, or grow up thinking he has to change who he is to fit in.

But secretly I'd make the best choices I could that he'd be more comfortable with, but I wouldn't let him suggest another outfit.

This is the 14 year old equivalent of a 3 year old requesting a snack and dismissing 5 perfectly reasonable choices because they want to know what the next unspoken one is...

FloweringSynchronicity Sun 20-May-18 10:44:10

OP - I know it must be hurtful but I think it is a stage he's going through rather than how he genuinely feels about you.

Tell him that men don't get to dictate how a woman dresses.

MsHomeSlice Sun 20-May-18 10:44:42

i would not stand for this...who exactly does he think he is?

Why are you even entertaining the option of changing? Dearie me, I do not think so!!

PoliticalBiscuit Sun 20-May-18 10:44:53

** sorry not boy dates!! Boundaries!!

melissasummerfield Sun 20-May-18 10:47:42

Please dont let a 14yo dictate what you wear, it will the start of a slippery slope!

gamerchick Sun 20-May-18 10:48:00

Why are you putting up with that man?! You're basically training him to be a controling partner. Sort it out and tell him if he tries to veto your wardrobe again you'll wear multi colours.

athingthateveryoneneeds Sun 20-May-18 10:48:41

I am tall,.loud, and have a foreign accent. My dc are occasionally embarrassed by my existence in public. Hey ho. They'll get over it in a few years and meanwhile they've learned they can't change someone's behaviour based upon their own whims. Valuable life lesson, I think!

Let him be embarrassed, op. He'll get over it especially if he loses out on fun experiences.

OdileDeCaray Sun 20-May-18 10:49:47

My father picked me up from the school leaving disco in 1982 and he was wearing a hat! I thought I'd suffocate with embarrassment!

However, I never said anything to my father as I knew I was in the wrong to feel that way.

Your son is behaving unreasonably.

I have adult children and we are all outspoken with each other and there is a big difference between gentle teasing and outright rudeness and being demanding. We also take on board each other's opinions and then decide to carry on or accept a different point of view.

For example my daughter will say that something I like in a shop is wrong for me but what about in a diffferent colour the same colour but a different style.

Personally I hate the look of older women wearing converse so I do understand where your son is coming from regarding those but he has no right to dictate you take them off!

Peachypeaches Sun 20-May-18 10:50:28

Honestly, as a parent of a 16yr old DS, he will be embarrassed whatever you do and whatever you wear, so don’t change a thing, and make this very clear to him. This is his issue to get over, not yours. With my son if he moaned about me being embarrassing I would deliberately become MORE embarrassing so he soon learnt not to say anything at all! Also worth asking him what makes him so special that the whole world is watching him and caring what he is doing or what his parents are wearing. This phase only lasted for a year, and it’s well behind him now. Good luck!

Smeaton Sun 20-May-18 10:52:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DaisysStew Sun 20-May-18 10:52:31

Why are you letting him dictate what you wear? What sort of lesson is that teaching him?

And no, not normal teen behaviour. Everyone gets a bit embarrassed by their parents at that age, but to actually be so rude and dictate what his parent wears isn’t on (and I’m still shock that you’ve actually done as he says and changed/asked for his approval)

Dumbledoresgirl Sun 20-May-18 10:54:50

I've had 3 teenage boys and a teenage girl. The girl wasn't quite as bad, but the boys were all exactly as you describe. It has nothing to do with your accent or clothing, it is just the fate of mist mum's of teenage boys that, overnight, they become a complete embarrassment to their teens.

I wouldn't let him dictate what you wear though. That is not part of the process!

formerbabe Sun 20-May-18 10:57:59

Kids are embarrassed by their parents full stop. I was walking with my ten year old DS on the way to school and asked in a perfectly normal tone/volume "oh, you have PE tomorrow don't you?". Cue lots of eye rolling and being told I was so embarrassing confused

Snewname Sun 20-May-18 10:59:25

I'd say all the politically correct things about not having to change for anyone etc, but I too would be secretly doing my best to be as inconspicuous as possible so that he wants to spend time with me.

Can you just buy a couple of boring cheap outfits for occasions such as this. It's normal for teenagers to be embarrassed, but I'd try to minimise this for the sake of our relationship.

pinkyredrose Sun 20-May-18 10:59:52

Why the fuck are you letting him dictate your clothes! ? Wear what you want, you're an adult and it's up to you, no one else. By giving him this power you're actually doing him a disservice. He'll think he can decide how women are dressed. If he gets married and has DC in the future would you be happy if he controls what his wife wears as 'she's a mum, that's not what mum's wear'. Time to stop pandering and start teaching him about bodily autonomy.

TheSecondOfHerName Sun 20-May-18 11:01:10

It's normal for children of that age to be embarrassed by their parents.

He has zero say in what you wear. By changing your outfit for him, you are not helping him in the long term.

(Parent of four teenagers)

tiddlyipom Sun 20-May-18 11:01:11

Not normal.
I have two sons about the same age and I don't think what I wear is on their radars at all.
Read back your post and substitute son for partner.Very controlling behavior which you need to put a stop to.
Wear what you want.

QuitMoaning Sun 20-May-18 11:02:54

When my son was 13 he took up a sporting hobby. I was sitting in the clubhouse reading my magazine completely on my own. Then his peers arrived and sat with him and he text me “Move!”
I was apparently within 5 metres of them despite me arriving first to an empty clubhouse.
I sat quietly and didn’t move.
He got over it eventually, and his team mates love me, and now he is great fun and back to our close relationship. It took a few months but we got there.
It is normal and doesn’t last forever. Don’t change but don’t rub his face in it and just be calm whilst he goes through this normal stage.

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