8 Ways to Embarrass Your Kids (In a Good Way!)

I read somewhere on the internet that parents embarrass their children 14 times a week. I don’t know about the statistical accuracy of the statement, but I believe that we can all remember a time in our adolescence when we felt our cheeks burn red after some comment, outfit, or dance move. Parents embarrass their kids; that’s just a law of nature. It is widely accepted and expected. In most instances, it is viewed as a bad thing. But here, I hope to explain a few ways to embarrass your kids in a good way, and I will even try to prove that it is important to do so. Keep in mind that this is coming from the perspective of a young adult not too far removed from those embarrassing grade school days.
1.      Be “Mushy”
This is the one of the most important purposes of parenthood and is one of the easiest ways to be a good parent. Show your kids that you love them! Believe me, affection conveys parental love much better than buying the newest video game or ordering their favorite pizza for dinner. Lick your thumb and wipe something off of their face. Hug and kiss them a lot. Tell them how much you love them and do it in front of people. Publicly display affection at the grocery store, at church, and especially in front of their friends. Kids, teenagers especially, may push you off or get irritated and call you “embarrassing,” but that’s a fleeting feeling. Their worries about what their friends may think don’t matter because you are showing them what you think of them. Knowing without a doubt that your parents love you enough to publicly display it makes a huge impact, especially during the teenage years. It’s an added bonus if friends or anyone else gets to feel that kind of love.

2.      Get to Know Their Friends
I mentioned showing your kids love in front of their friends. An equally embarrassing parental gig is getting to know your children’s friends. When I was young, I sometimes felt as though my dad was interrogating the friends I brought home, and I didn’t often expect them to return. But as I have grown, I have learned that because he loved me so much, he wanted to love my friends as well. He wanted to get to know them and make them feel at home in my family’s setting. My parents even served them as they would have served one of their own children. They have rescued friends who locked their keys in their vehicles, given my friends rides to the airport, and been a listening ear to their troubled hearts when I could not be. Those efforts paid off. I can’t count how many of my friends have mentioned how much they love my parents or how our home felt “different” and “good” in some way. I appreciate that my parents were embarrassingly inquisitive with my friends. It not only showed me that they loved me, but it taught me the importance of loving and serving others. As an added bonus, it did the same for my friends.  
3.      Put Notes in the Lunch Box
“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” (Alma 37:6) Really and truly, putting note in a lunch box is just a small effort that can go a long, long way. It doesn’t have to say much, just a simple “love you” written in sharpie on the zip lock bag shows extra effort. Every kid loves a surprise, and the kids who might poke fun at it are really just jealous.
4.      Say “No”
Sometimes the worst thing my parents could do was to say “no” in front of friends. Especially if everyone else’s parents were saying yes. But “no” very often means “I love you, and I know that this isn’t good for you.” I appreciate this more as my testimony of the gospel grows stronger. The Lord loves us and knows what is best for us. “No” isn’t usually an embarrassment or a restriction in parental and heavenly terms: it is loving guidance.
5.      Yell At Them (Good Thoughts Only)
Yelling out of anger is never good. But, my parents made a habit of yelling pieces of advice to my brothers and me as we left the house or when they dropped us off at school. One of these pearls of wisdom was, “Make good ripples!” What my mother meant was that we should remember that all of our actions have consequences and effects on others, kind of a reiteration of the Golden Rule (Matt. 19:19). Another was, “We love you and we don’t want you to have sex until you are married.” That one always made our cheeks burn. But despite that, it was a small and subtle reminder that parental love encourages obedience to the commandments of God (Law of Chastity).
6.      Make Them Do Chores
We did a lot of chores. Even when we had friends over. In fact, if our friends were over for more than a few hours, they had chores, too. At the time, I felt like apologies were necessary. But now I can see that working together brought my friends and me closer and definitely made them feel more comfortable in our home. It also teaches basic self-sufficiency, which certainly contributes to self-worth.
7.      Find Gospel Principles in Everything
It used to drive me crazy how my mother could tie anything to some gospel principle and lesson. Any infomercial was subject to become an analogy for that day’s gospel topic. Any conversation could start off with a joke and turn into a testimony meeting. The thing is, she looks for gospel truths in every aspect of her life. That isn’t embarrassing; it is admirable. And since we are here on this earth to learn, progress, and prepare to meet God (Alma 12:24), we should take advantage of every learning opportunity (Proverbs 22:6).
8.      Talk about Jesus Christ
Our Savior isn’t a secret. The Restored Gospel isn’t something to be sorry for. High standards and strong morals aren’t things to be ashamed of. If you really want to embarrass your kids in the most important and wonderful way, talk about Jesus Christ! Share your testimony with them every day. Invite their friends to participate in Family Home Evening, family prayer, and church activities. Encourage your kids to be missionaries (Mark 16:15). Maybe they won’t understand it, I know I didn’t. But they will remember it. It will not be remembered with shame, but with pride and it will be an example of faith that will forever guide their lives.
Like I mentioned, I am not too far removed from grade school. My parents have embarrassed me and I am sure they will continue to do so. But a few red-cheek moments are nothing compared to the unconditional love that I am sure of and the Christ-like examples that helped build my personal testimony of my Savior. So instead of apologizing when your kids give you that stern, red-faced look, just remember that eventually they will be grateful. 

Koby Lopez is 22 years old and happily married. She and her husband are both studying at Texas A&M University and are enjoying their newlywed/student life, but are also excited to graduate and start a family. Koby loves surprises and tries to focus on the little things in life. Her personal motto is "preparation brings blessings."


  1. Great to hear somethings actually stick! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You are amazing. Thank you for sharing these things! It helps me to appreciate the many, many times my mother embarrassed me when I was younger.