Paltrow’s pic drew the most relatable reaction from her own daughter

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Opinion

https://www.smh.com.au-By Tanith Carey

Every parent of teens knows there are many ways for adolescents to weaponise the word “Mum”. This simple three-letter word can be used to do everything from whine, to implore or grab your attention. But by far the most deadly use is to mean: “You are the most embarrassing person in the world. Just kill me now!”

Indeed, it was all that 16-year-old Apple Martin needed to say on her mother Gwyneth Paltrow’s birthday post.

While the Goop beauty guru trilled on about being “in nothing but my birthday suit” for her 48th birthday, it was clear from the teen’s use of the word “Mum” – or, rather, “MOM”, in capitals – that, in her online reply, she was doing an eye-roll so big, her eyes were about to fall out of the back of her head.

And, of course, you don’t need to be a superstar with seven million Instagram followers to get this sort of reaction from your teenager.

I never strip off in my garden (and not just because it’s overlooked by neighbours), let alone on my Instagram, where my daughter Clio, 15, might see it. But I still get censored by my daughter for offences I consider relatively minor. In the past week alone, these have included writing and posting an article containing the word “sex” that some of her friends might see, and bending over in my jeans to take the rubbish out and revealing a hint of a builder’s bum, even though there was no one else but her to see it.

So, to be honest, when I saw Gwyneth had gone the whole way and posted her naked photo, I wasn’t so much impressed by the fact she had stripped off, but wowed by her phenomenal bravery as she is still the mum of two judgy teens (she has 14-year-old Moses, too), who are bound to have a strong opinion.

And, like many parents, I admit that, in the face of this overactive criticism, I have sometimes been tempted to respond: “Mind your own business. Why do YOU have to take what I do so personally?” But as with all things to do with teens, it helps to see this as a necessary phase.

In fact, as author of What’s My Teenager Thinking? Practical Child Psychology for Modern Parents, I have to say it helps to remember that it would actually be MORE worrying if your teen didn’t want the ground to swallow them up from time to time.

That’s because there are sound developmental reasons for those dreaded words: “You’re so embarrassing!” Hurtful though it can feel from a child who once worshipped you, teens find you cringeworthy because it’s part of the process of detaching from you.

Teens are so acutely self-conscious because they have an “imaginary audience” in their minds watching every move, even when there’s no one there. Unconsciously, they imagine they are being watched and judged by others even when they aren’t.

Because they have not yet completely broken away from the tribe of their family to form their own identities, they feel that whatever their parents do rubs off on them, too – and they will also be judged harshly on it.

But there’s good news on the horizon and that is that those intense feelings of humiliation-by-parent peak at about the ages of 14 and 15. Gradually, as they start to form their own lives and their own tribe, they no longer feel you are letting down the family brand – and them by association.

Of course, all this is much harder for celebrity children. I wonder what Amanda Holden’s 14-year-old daughter Lexi had to say after her mum’s “wardrobe malfunction” that apparently revealed her nipples on this week’s Britain’s Got Talent? Or what poor Lourdes Leon or David Banda think when confronted with the latest pictures of their 62-year-old mother Madonna dressing like she’s on the way to Hallowe’en-themed Saga sex party?

It’s not an easy trade-off. These women maintain a high profile to stay in the public eye, so sometimes their children’s sensitivities get forgotten.

So while being the child of a celebrity mum has its compensations, having the ultimate embarrassing parent whose antics are seen by millions is definitely the downside.

The Telegraph, London

 

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