April 22, 2011 - submitted by Annie, United States of America

Q. TEAM ORACLE QUESTION - #21
I have an extremely embarrassing dad who has a very weird and uncommon hobby, which requires having things stuck outside the house that don't look exactly normal. My dad doesn't realize that he embarrasses me and my brother, but I don't know how to explain to him about how I feel without entirely hurting his feelings. Also, two of my neighbors are in my grade and I'm not entirely the most popular kid in the school and and I'm scared of having to explain to them. My dad has tried to get me into his hobby and whenever I have friends over, he takes his hobby all over the house and my friends look embarrassed when they ask me about it. Please help! I need some advice before I do anything! Annie


The Oracle replies:

It's tough feeling embarrassed by your parents but let's break this down and make it simpler. I don't know what your dad is doing but essentially I assume he isn't really causing anyone any harm by pursuing his interests. Imagine this was you, how would you feel if someone wanted to change who you are and what you do? Your dad may be a little eccentric but he's also showing you how to be who you want to be regardless of what others may think. That's a great life lesson. You do not need to feel scared of having to explain anything to your friends & do you know why? Because you do not have to explain to ANYONE; it's not your place to. Just because he's your dad he's still an individual and as long as he's not putting you at risk he should be free to make his own choices. I know it's hard for you but try to rise above it or let it go over your head. If people ask you about it or poke fun, just shrug your shoulders and say "Hey, that's my dad. Ask him about it." As for your dad trying to include you and engage you in his hobby, that's the perfect time to tell him, each to their own and you don't share his interest AT ALL! It only embarrasses you because you let it. If you become a parent one day, hopefully you will still feel like you can be true to yourself. Over to you.

We all have some embarassing family members, but he is your dad and rather than being embarrassed and scared about what others may think, why not be proud of who he is? Don't let popularity ruin your relationship with your dad and maybe you should ask your dad where his habit came from, there might be a deeper meaning behind. Taameen.

I, like you, had an embarrassing dad. For example, my dad likes to wear really short shorts. Everyday after school he would pick me up and get out of the car and yell my name really loud so I would get in the car. He was wearing his famous short shorts and a hot pink tank top that didn't fit him well, he looked like a pop star! Everyone saw, even my crush. I personally didn't talk to my dad about it, but I did talk to my friends. I would tease him in a respectful way saying things like "Can you believe what my dad was wearing yesterday?" We would laugh and move on. I didn't make it a big deal, so it wasn't. You could try talking to your dad and tell him your feelings, that never hurts as long as your nice about it. But be prepared though, it's possible that nothing will change because your dad has every right to express his hobby. It's good that you have a sibling you can talk to about it, I didn't, so take advantage of that. I'm sure those "popular" kids have things that's embarrassing about their parents as well. Most people do. I hope this helps in some way! Caitlin.

Annie, just talk to your dad. You said so: he doesn't realize how you and your brother feel, so you can't expect him to read your mind. His feelings will be hurt, right, but you can carefully choose the words you're going to use. Think what are you exactly going to say and then go to see him. Your brother and you should talk about it first and then go to talk to him together (your dad will see that you are not the only one that thinks that way). You can tell your dad that he has an strange hobby, that you don't understand it and don't support it. Tell him that people don't get it either because it's weird and they usually ask and find it strange, so you don't feel comfortable with that situation. You can also ask your mum to have a conversation about this subject with your dad after you and your brother talk to him. Try to be kind with your dad. He needs to know how his children feel and the only thing you can do is telling him about it. If it doesn't work, maybe ask someone else close to him, who understands you, to talk to him. If he gets upset, remember that he is your father and this is just a simple fight. Things are going to be alright. And if you have a garden in the back of the house, he could continue with his hobby there. Love from Argentina. Noelia

Don't feel too bad, everyone has been embarrassed by their family at one time or another. Both you and your brother should tell your dad about how embarrassed you feel in front of your friends when he gives his hobby tour. I'm sure your dad already knows that his hobby is rather uncommon, so don't be afraid to tell him the truth. He may feel upset, but you could explain to him that you want to try your own hobby if you want to let him down lightly. Don't think that your friends never get embarrassed by their parents. If you explain your dad's hobby to them, they'll understand. Your friends might even tell you something that embarrasses them in return! Blake.

Okay when I first read this I thought hey Annie suck it up. I mean I'm 15 right and go to mass and my mum has a tendency of singing super loud. big problem she can’t even sing! Like picture the worst person singing and 10 x worsen that person! That Annie is my mum! Have I told her to shut up? No because she likes it and why stop somebody from liking something. Whatever strange hobby it is, if it makes him happy then you why take that away from him? As embarrassing as it gets, you can talk to him nicely and take it slow by explaining it is humiliating. Start off easy by saying when your friends come over, he can limit it or just try and not get in your way with his hobby. Avoid a) shouting b) using the terms 'you're embarrassing, 'you suck and c) mentioning your friends also finding it weird. If all else fails or you still can't tell him then have sleepovers more at your mates houses and give it a go - he'll love that you at least tried the hobby and you can say you don't like it after you tried who knows... you may even like it! Btw I think I speak for the rest of the readers what is this hobby!? Sara.

This doesnt always work out for everyone, but what I'd do, is simply let him be. Don't care what other people think about you. I never did, and that led to me being very well respected among my peers, and my parents. I'd say simply let your father do what he enjoys doing, and dont mind when people poke fun. Eventually poeple will no longer care about it and if you dont let it bother you, people will begin to see it. Daegan.

My dad used to go out of his way to embarrass my siblings and I. For example, he'd drive through our neighborhood, honking and waving at everyone along the way; we'd cower on the floor of the van, hoping no one would recognize us. He'd do goofy dances in the grocery store, or loudly pass gas in the checkout lane! Those moments seem funny to me today, but I avoided my dad like the plague when I was in junior high and high school. I don't think it's our parents' jobs to make life easy for us. Kids so often want to blend in as best they can, and maybe their families are not conforming to their expectations of what is normal. As for your friends, I'm sure their parents embarrass them too; so I'm guessing they feel for you! I know it's painful and bothersome, but he's your dad, and you probably have only a few years left living under the same roof. I'd like to recommend that you gather up all your reserves of humor and tolerance, and just do your best to laugh it off. Someday, you'll long for his company. Life's short, so don't sweat it! Good luck to you. Aimee.

Thank you all for your replies.
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