Why Are Teenagers Embarrassed by Their Parents?

As teenagers develop into adults they seek independence as they work to create their own identity. It can be common for them to feel embarrassed by their parents and the way they dress and act. Teenagers may also feel that their parents interfere too much in their lives. Aside from hormones and social development, the brain is also still developing during the teenage years. These developments may contribute to higher levels of sensitivity and feelings of embarrassment.

Clothes and Style

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, teenagers are more influenced by their peers than their parents when it comes to clothes and style. Teens may feel embarrassed by the clothes their parents are wearing; some can be particularly embarrassed if their parents try to dress like teenagers. This is because teenagers want to express their own identity through their style. According to BBC Health, teenagers may also feel embarrassed when their parents look more unconventional -- many teens prefer their parents to dress like other parents.


It is a normal development for teenagers to want to be independent and to want to create their own identity separate from their parents. This desire for independence can clash with their competing need for support from their parents. The BBC Health website claims that teenagers want to be seen as having greater independence than they really do, which is why they might ask to be dropped off around the corner from the school gate. Teenagers might be embarrassed if their parents surprise them in front of their friends, as well 3. For example, popping in to see your teen at school can clash with his desire to be seen as independent.

Interfering Parents

Privacy is very important to teenagers. According to KidsHealth, it can be embarrassing for teens if their parents interfere in their privacy by doing things like cleaning their room or checking their texts. Even if teens don't have any secrets they may feel their parents don't trust them and are stopping them from becoming independent. According to an article in USA Today teens can be embarrassed if their parents want to become friends on social media sites such as Facebook, they may worry that their parents will do or say something awkward in front of their peers 2.

Brain Development

The teenage brain is still developing and processes feelings of embarrassment differently than the adult brain 3. An article published in The Telegraph discusses a study conducted by the University College London and published in the Journal of Cognitive Neoscience in 2009. The study compared brain patterns among adults and teenagers. The study concluded that although thinking of emotions such as fear and disgust used the same parts of the brain in both teenagers and adults, teenagers responded with a different part of their brain than adults when thinking about potentially embarrassing situations, such as imagining seeing their father dancing at the grocery store 3.