Parents are universally embarrassing when you're growing up, but there were certainly specific things parents did in the '90s that were embarrassing. When you think about embarrassment and awkwardness, the things you did in the '90s are very much different from the things kid do now. Cultural and social cringe is as much about the time in which it occurs as it is about the thing that is cringeworthy. So parents, in the '90s, could embarrass you in a plethora of ways that might be entirely irrelevant now. Spoiler alert: a lot of them had to do with the lack of mobile technology we have now.
Parents in the '90s wore terrible pants. They tried to be "hip" by learning "Macarena", and failed by never doing it properly. They gave you 20 cents when you went to the mall so you could call them from a payphone to get picked up, and they almost always pulled right up to the curb and kissed you in front of all your friends. Parents are designed to make us less cool. They're meant to make us feel awkward and embarrassed when we're kids. And the vast joke of life is that we eventually grow up and become just like them, bless. Here are some of the most embarrassing things parents could do to their children in the '90s.
1. Sang Loudly To "Pretty Fly For A White Guy"
"Pretty Fly For A White Guy" was the worst thing that happened to children, ever. For whatever reason, parents LOVED this song, and they loved singing loudly (and often getting the lyrics wrong) in the presence of clearly not-impressed young people.
2. Called Your Friends Parents To Discuss The Details Of A Sleepover You Were Going To
On a house phone, no less. The worst thing a parent could do in the '90s was inviting on using a landline to call another parent to discuss the details of you going to a slumber party at their house. Like, moooooooooommmmm. Stop already.
3. Did The "Cut It Out" Mime, Like, All The Time
Dads everywhere thought Uncle Joey's "Cut It Out" mime from Full House was just HILARIOUS. That's the nature of dad jokes: only the dads making them think they're funny.
4. Said Things Like "Whatever" And "As If" In Front Of You And Your Friends
A parents desire to speak in "young people lingo" transcends eras. Back then they were saying "Whatever" and "As if". Now they're saying "Bae" and "fleek". Potato, potata.
5. Picked Up The Home Phone When Your Crush Was Calling, Even Though You Asked Them To Let You Answer
Before cell phones, we had to have our crushes call us at home. And sometimes, even when your TOLD your parents, EXPLICITLY, not to answer the phone at a certain time and that you would, and they picked up ANYWAY. Which made the whole ordeal so much more anxiety inducing.
6. Walked Into A Party When They Were There To Pick You Up
These days parents can turn up to a social event to pick a child up, send a text, or make a call and have the child come outside to the car. In the '90s, we didn't have the technology to stop our parents walking into a banging party and looking for us when it was time to go home.
7. Wore Tie-Dyed Clothes
It was a craze. And parents did it too. Sometimes in public. Always poorly, and always, for some reason, with a hideously oversized t-shirt.
8. Communicated With You By Picking Up The Other Line While You Were On The Phone To A Friend
The landline was the scourge of the '90s child. Privacy was almost non existent for kids in the '90s. Mostly because if you were on a call upstairs, and your parents downstairs wanted to tell you dinner was ready or to get off the phone, they'd pick up the downstairs line and let you know mid conversation.
9. Doing the "Macarena"
Whatever it was about the "Macarena," parents thought it was amazing.
10. Banning You From Seeing Titanic
Believing that you were old enough to watch Titanic in the '90s was not the same as your parents believing you were.
11. Wearing "Mom Jeans"
Mom jeans might be chic now, but in the '90s, they were just mom jeans — i.e., hideously ugly pants worn by uncool mothers hellbent on embarrassing their children.
12. Rocking A Fanny Pack When Escorting You In Social Situations
Again, fanny packs might be Kylie Jenner cool right now, but in the '90s they screamed "My parents are the least chill people on earth."
13. Calling Every Kind Of Game "Nintendo"
Any kind of game, from your Sega to your Tamagotchi, was a Nintendo to your parents. In the '90s, you basically face palmed forever.