I’m 16 and my parents are around 47 years old. Recently, I went for a stand-up comedy show with them. A 31-year age gap is truly tested when your child is sitting between you and your spouse and the person on stage has used all the possible abuses, insults and crude words that exist in the English language.
Initially, I saw them smile, probably reminiscing their college days. Then, I saw the smile falter and turn into a frown. When they thought that I wasn’t looking, they exchanged a look that clearly said, “Shit.” Thereafter, every time a racy, inappropriate joke was made, I saw their hands shake, with silent laughter or anger, I wasn’t sure. I was too focussed on keeping the smile off my face in case they thought I understood any of it.
After the show was over, me and my dad had a good laugh about how the show had been described as ‘family friendly’ but when it came to the content of the show, neither of them would meet my eyes. This just made me more awkward and I didn’t want to tell them that I’ve probably heard most of the inappropriate jokes before.
Not only did this awkwardness ruin our evening, I also realised that this was not the child’s (i.e. my) fault at all. This discomfort was caused because I knew that my parents would be uncomfortable, whereas if they would’ve come with friends, it’d be a hoot. This kind of adult awkwardness prevents healthy relationships between parents and children. So, to help all the parents out there, I thought I’d write an open letter to them, on the behalf of all the spoiled, perverted, abusive, ‘knowledgeable’ teenagers fighting to control their laughter when a dirty joke appears in a movie.
We know everything. Even words that hadn’t been invented when you were young. We are exposed to all kinds of people in school and on social media and obviously, we’re going to hear stuff. If you’re awkward about it, we’ll probably just abuse when you’re not around, lying to you in same way or the other. You don’t have to like it to explain it but you need to be the initial source of information and clarification. If you’re open with us, explaining what different words mean and why we shouldn’t use them, the chances of us being honest with you are much greater.
Awkwardness only creates more awkwardness and inhibits trust and understanding. You need to trust us to make our own choices. Instead of ignoring that sex exists and that we were brought to you’ll by a magical stork, explain the process to us and normalize it because by being secretive and awkward about it, you’re shrouding it in a veil of curiosity and intrigue, making it even more attractive to us.
This is an open letter to all parents, requesting you to be open with us or else we’ll close ourselves up in worlds you wouldn’t want us to live in. Create a mutual understanding with us because otherwise, it’s really more embarrassing and awkward for us when we hear you’ll laugh at a perverted joke.
So please parents, don’t pretend to be pure and innocent flowers around your children because honestly, they’re the undeniable evidence that you’ll have had sex and if you’re going to be awkward about that in front of them, you might as well be awkward about your job, your marriage, your clothes and everything else that’s completely normal which you’d usually tell your children about.
[Written by Niyoshi Parekh]