How to handle a super-embarrassing parent like Sarah Ferguson

Elise Solé

News flash: Royal parents are not exempt from embarrassing their children.

Proof of that is Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, whose gushy tweets over daughter Princess Eugenie’s engagement have sent the palace into a total PR panic.

On Tuesday, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew (the son of Queen Elizabeth and the little brother of Prince Charles) and mother of their two children, Princess Eugenie, 27, and Princess Beatrice, 29, tweeted her excitement over her youngest engagement to wine merchant Jack Brooksbank, 31.

Duchess of York may have been a little tweet happy after daughter Eugenie's engagement. Photo: Getty

“Total joy!” tweeted Fergie along with a photo of the couple.

Included were the words “A total embrace of goodness and joy. We love Jack and I am so excited to have a son, a brother, and a best friend. Eugenie is one of the finest people I know and so together it will be pure harmony.”

But that wasn't all. More followed.

Lastly, the 58-year-old mum tweeted with a cheeky photo of the pair, “Thank you for your message and for sharing all our happiness with them and you.”

According to the Daily Mail, a scheduled BBC television interview with the princess and her beau was abruptly cancelled.

This left her ex-husband Prince Andrew to field questions from reporters. The change of plan led to speculation that the duchess may have been silenced due to her effusive online postings.

Translation: Ferguson totally embarrassed her daughter.

“Parents generally become embarrassing at two different life stages,” Deborah Gilboa, MD, a parenting and youth development expert, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Sometimes parents just can't help themselves. Photo: Getty

“During the teen years, when kids start pulling away from their families and do the hard, social work of forming identities as individuals; and young adulthood, when people become totally autonomous, such as with marriage.”

Sometimes, says Deborah, “embarrassing” is a blanket descriptor covering other strong feelings such as anger, outrage, and betrayal, which women are historically cultured to suppress in lieu of appearing nice and accommodating.

At the core of most “embarrassing parent” stories, particularly involving the public nature of social media, is the absence of consent.

“Many parents now teach their children about consent, but when consent isn’t granted, for example, when posting private family photos, it can seem hypocritical,” she says.

For royals who live in the public eye and by a very specific code of conduct, the photos of Eugenie and her fiancé may be an example of that.

For the people who feel embarrassed by their parents, communicate those feelings.

“Figure out what you need,” says Deborah.

“An apology? An offer to remove the photos? An agreement to approve social media posts beforehand? Many people on social media just want photo approval.”

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