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I’m So Embarrassed!
Dear Emuna

I’m So Embarrassed!

Help! I love my parents but I think they are an embarrassment.

by

Dear Emuna,

My parents are a little weird. They’re older than most of my friends’ parents and they don’t dress the same way as everyone else. They are nice and kind but I’m embarrassed to bring my friends over to play. I feel badly about this but I can’t seem to stop myself from cringing. What should I do?

Guilt-Ridden Child

Dear Guilt-Ridden,

I don’t know how old you are (you’re very mature to have written this letter) but if you are an adolescent I promise you that someday you will do or say at least one thing (and probably more!) that will embarrass your parents. Yet if they are as nice and kind as you describe they probably won’t say anything. They will allow you to pass through this adolescent phase feeling only secure and loved.

They won’t care what their friends think and certainly not what mere acquaintances think because their relationship with you and your emotional well-being are so much more important to them than the ill-informed judgment of strangers.

You should treat your parents the same way. Long after most of these friendships have gone by the wayside, your parents will still be there for you. They have given you everything – and will likely continue to do so. This relationship is so much more important than fleeting teenage ones and they deserve so much more.

I know that right now the opinion of your peers is everything. It’s hard to move beyond that. But this is a real growth opportunity. It’s a chance to recognize that the opinion of most people is irrelevant to you, especially when they are critical of your family. It’s an opportunity to assert the primacy of the parent-child relationship and to decide whose opinion matters to you – and whose really doesn’t. Decisions like this will aid you throughout your life.

Other children may be cruel. They may make fun of your parents. But who cares? Do you really value the thoughts and approbation of someone who would behave like that? Stick with your parents. It’s the relationship that truly counts.

TV at Grandparents

Dear Emuna,

I am blessed to live near my parents and I have a great relationship with them. They are close with my husband as well and wonderful grandparents to our three young children – most of the time. We just have one issue that is interfering with our ability to fully enjoy the relationship. My husband and I made a choice not to have a television in our home. Although we are more religious than our parents, that wasn’t the deciding factor. We just don’t like the values being promoted on most shows today and we don’t like the passivity of the experience. We’d rather our children were more active and engaged in more creative play. And of course we don’t want them to pick up on the values or some of the language of prime time TV.

My parents hear our concerns but they think it’s harmless and like to let the kids watch TV as a treat. It’s starting to cause conflict. How do you suggest I handle it?

Daughter and Mother

Dear Daughter, Mother and Wife,

It is a complicated situation that you are describing and there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. You certainly don’t want to damage your relationship with your parents but you also have a responsibility to your children. I think that rather than make a big philosophical fight and ban all television at all times – and cause anger and resentment- I would try and look for a compromise.

You say you have a great relationship with them and I assume they want what’s best for you and the kids. It might work out easier if you just set some boundaries.

“The kids love coming over to see you and I know they like to sit in front of the television. I like them to be more active (don’t play the religion card) so could we limit the TV viewing to one cartoon per visit? That would really be great. And if there’s any way you could TiVo it ahead of time so they miss the commercials I would be really appreciative.”

I can’t imagine any parents with whom you have a “great relationship” saying no to such a request. If this compromise still doesn’t work for you then you can be more assertive.

Again, ask very nicely. Suggest that it will be better for them academically if they read or play or bake cookies with their grandmother. Explain that they are coming over to spend time with their grandparents and not to engage in another activity. Perhaps TV watching occurs when the grandparents run out of activities or energy. Maybe making the visits a little shorter will help.

The most important thing is to approach your parents with love and respect and without judgment. When approached like that, no parent can ever say no to their child!

Bad Party, Sad Wife

Dear Emuna,

I recently made my husband a birthday party. Although it wasn’t a “special” year (he turned 56; I am 40) I just wanted to express my appreciation and love. I invited a lot of his friends and mine. I hired a DJ and a bartender and we had a great night. It lasted until about 2 in the morning (when the neighbors complained) and I thought it was a lot of fun. The next morning he told me that he hated it. I couldn’t stop crying. I went to all that trouble and he admitted that he didn’t really enjoy himself. He would have preferred something quieter and more intimate. My feelings are really hurt and I don’t know what to do.

Sad Wife

Dear Sad Wife,

I understand both sides – your hurt and your husband’s response. In an ideal world, your husband wouldn’t have revealed that he didn’t enjoy it. He would have spared you the pain. But, also in an ideal world, you would have made a different party. You made a classic human mistake. You made him the party that you wanted and not the one he wanted. Whether it’s because of age difference or personality difference, you should have recognized that his preferences run to small and sedate.

When we give to people, we want to give them what they would enjoy. Perhaps the age difference comes into play and he is no longer a “party animal” while you still are; but it could just be personality. This was a painful lesson but not the worst pain and not such a bad way to learn it. If you can take from this situation and be a more empathic wife, friend, mother, and human being, then it will have been worth the expense and the tears.

Published: May 24, 2014

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Visitor Comments: 16

(14) Miriam, June 1, 2014 3:03 AM

Regarding the grandparents and television...

I think the onus is on the grandparents to keep to the parents' wishes. However: For how long do you leave your kids there for them to babysit? Perhaps that's why they turn on the TV for them: they need to keep them occupied for long periods of time!
If you don't want the TV going on, you probably shouldn't leave them there for long periods of time, or at all, if it's too much for the grandparents. (They're not as young as they used to be!)
You can ask them: Would you be able to watch them tonight for an hour or is it too much without the TV? I know my kids could get pretty high maintenance...

(13) Marina Nanyova, May 30, 2014 7:12 AM

Bad party, sad wife

The wife should be happy and satisfied from what she has organized - if she is honest with herself and it has been a party for her birthday . Iin the same time she should realize and admit, and notice how her hasband has been feeling during the party and not expecting thanks and praises . Before planing the party/, choosing a gift/ present on an ocasion for anyone - be it a parent, husband/child /friend - she /one should try to move out of her/ones ego even to look for help/advice if necessary to try to find out what the other party likes. I believe, most of us- women, no matter how old we are we getting prefer to have more people around us. not onl;y relativs, music , DJ -opend party This situation remind me something else, which i find related to it somehow. Few years, after I have mooved to live together with my husband''s parents, I have understood that most of the time when I have felt unhappy about a conflict situation and havedrawn conclusions that they hate me , actually this happened because I had been fixed on/ I coudn't moved out of my ego and feel/understand their point of view .

(12) Anonymous, May 29, 2014 8:46 PM

TV and Grandparents

Emunah hit the nail on the head: compromise and be proactive about it! The only thing I would change is that instead of leaving the program selection open ("one cartoon"), research what is available to find what shows won't conflict with the values you're instilling in your kids, and then tell your parents which particular program(s) is/are acceptable. Although your preference is for no program at all, there is a huge difference between The Magic School Bus and Tom & Jerry: both are cartoons but only one of them has some redeeming value. You might also want to keep a couple of pre-approved DVDs at your parents' house for the kids to watch instead of TV. Keep in mind that there is plenty of wholesome family programming from decades past available; depending on age and gender, for example, there are shows such as Little House on the Prairie and the Cosby Show. (One of the nice things about these shows in particular is that Michael Landon insisted that everyone involved - cast and crew - had to be home for dinner with their family each night, while Bill Cosby immediately shot down Malcolm Jamal-Warner's attempt to play Theo as a wannabe thug by challenging him "Would you talk to your father that way?" and later voluntarily arranged Tempestt Bledsoe's filming schedule to allow her to attend college classes. So there were good values at work behind the scenes too.)

(11) Daisy Harari mayer, May 29, 2014 8:28 PM

Parents

We have to see that every enervation is different than the other .
This girl have to know that when she will have her children they also will find her different.
The oly thing good very good is that our parents love us truly without asking for anything.

(10) H A Arnevet, May 29, 2014 5:28 PM

Party problem

Had the wife cared for her spouse she would have known his preference. Lying to her and saying it was a great event only encourages her to ignore his desires. Since she ignored what probably was obvious, telling her he was unhappy was the only way to get her to understand his feelings. On the other hand, if he throws a noisy, party for his wife who DOES appreciate such things, well and good. A spouse should be sensitive to his/her partners feelings - if in doubt, ask.

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