The Top 5 Ways To (Harmlessly) Embarrass Your Pre-Teen.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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Parents, lets be honest: sometimes, it's just fun to do things that drive your child, especially if they're a pre-teen, up the wall. In a good way, of course (We don't want to see any kid in long-term therapy! :-)).

We are currently raising 2 pre-teens. It’s a lot of fun, for many reasons. It’s great to have them at this age, now, because we have begun to have many meaningful and deep conversations. But, it is also fun to see their eyes roll and watch their heads nod violently when we break out in song or start to show an abundance of affection to one another when they talk about how gross it is that married people kiss (as they dramatically put it).

Since my wife, Kristin, and I are both first children, you can imagine that all of this is intensified to the highest level….a lot!

So, all in good, harmless fun, here are the top 5 ways to embarrass your pre-teen:

1. Dance all the time, even if there’s no music playing.

I usually go for a ramped up version of the Carlton dance (from Fresh Prince Of Bel-air, if you’re confused), and Kristin sticks with a remix of a hula-dance and salsa. If we’re both feeling extra embarrassing we will break out the “This is your world” scene from Hitch, when Alex teaches Albert how to dance at a social gathering. Our pre-teens usually stand, arms crossed, proclaiming our un-coolness! (Double-awesome-bonus points awarded if you make up your own music and sing while dancing!)

2. Wear uncool clothes.

The other day our daughter Carmen, who is nearing her 13th birthday, was getting ready for school, and mildly freaking out about her clothing and which outfit would look better for her first day. At one point in the conversation my wife let her know that she would be ready, at a moment’s notice, to show up at the parent pick-up line sporting her pink-leapard print galoshes. I chimed in and assured her that I would be close behind, 2-stepping, sporting a trucker cap and skinny jeans. Love it!

3. Talk to their friends in movie lines.

We prefer the scene from Mean Girls where the girls walk into Regina George’s mansion and her mother, Mrs. George, sporting a pink suede jogging suit (which is awesome) says, “Hey, hey, hey! How are my best girlfriends? What is everybody up to? What’s the hot gossip? Tell me everything! What’s the 411? Ahh, you girls keep me young!”

4. Talk to their friends period!

The other night, during parent orientation at our daughter’s new school, my wife (being the friendly person that she is) was meeting new parents and students, but also engaging in conversation with a few students that our daughter knew. She kept whispering to my wife, “Mom, stop talking to my friends, it’s embarrassing!” Jackpot! That’s when we realized we had another one to add to our list (it’s the little victories!).

And for the grand finale… 5. Excessively hug and kiss your spouse anytime your pre-teen walks into the room. 

Stand back and watch your child reel in pain as if someone just jabbed a scolding hot blade into their lower back. Relish the dramatic dry-heaving and convulsions you’ve just created by your public displays of affection! You’ll get triple-awesome-bonus points from us if you do this when their friends are around. Heck, when you and your spouse come up for air, speak to your kid and their friends in “romantic” movie lines (I recommend gazing into one another’s eyes as you hold each other close and breaking out Jerry McGuire’s “You had me at hello,” or Dirty Dancing’s “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”). This would be worth more bonus points than I could count!

Ah, parenthood and pre-teens! There’s nothing more adventurous or frustrating. Fortunately you can take out your frustration on harmlessly embarrassing them!

Question: What are some other ways to “harmlessly” embarrass your pre-teen? Share in the comment section of this post! 

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.