It goes without saying: no one wants to raise a poser. Imagine having to tell everyone on your Christmas card list that Eriickka cried when she got her ears pierced and thinks Good Charlotte basically invented punk.

It’s impossible for a parent, especially one who’s working full time, to monitor a child’s behavior 24/7—nor should you attempt to. Overbearing parents are the #3 cause of poser conversion. However, you should remain vigilant to certain signs so this epidemic doesn’t affect your family’s welfare.

1. Dumbass Aesthetic Choices

The most obvious sign is your child’s changing wardrobe. One day they have no issues wearing Kohl’s sale items or whatever hand-me-downs were salvageable, the next they’ll only don fingerless gloves and the tackiest novelty tees imaginable. They draw on themselves with a Sharpie but don’t have the guts to get inked – or find a tattoo artist willing to work on a minor.

Undoubtedly the biggest red flag in this scenario is your child becoming a frequent Hot Topic customer. The occasional purchase is nothing to worry about—who among us didn’t dabble?—but regular visits signal a serious problem. Take them to an Army Navy surplus store or the dumpster behind a local retailer. From there, let them pick out whatever they want. Any studded belts they didn’t steal or make themselves should soon disappear.

2. Shitty Music Taste

This sign is a crucial yet controversial one. Taste is subjective and we all have guilty sonic pleasures. Nevertheless, music is the #1 indicator that your child might be backsliding into poserdom.

So what kinds of music deserve closest monitoring?

First, terrible pop punk bands like Simple Plan, the aforementioned Good Charlotte, and 5 Seconds of Summer. It’s important to distinguish between such slop and REAL pop punk, like Descendants, NOFX, and Dookie-era Green Day. Nu metal is also tricky, as amidst the strained screaming and dissonant, sludge-like riffs are actual songs. A good rule of thumb: if your child attends concerts in which they scream about hating their parents after you:

  1. Bought them tickets
  2. Transported them to the venue
  3. Chaperoned them at said venue

…then you’ve got trouble.

Increased exposure to classic punk rock should suffice, so fire up London Calling on vinyl and prepare to explain what a “pork pie hat” is.

3. Half-Hearted Experimentation with Substances

The more hardcore poser-types might chug Robitussin and trip in their bedrooms. Or perhaps take four aspirin after being disciplined and claim a suicide attempt. But most behaviors in this category are typical of adolescents curious about substances: raiding the liquor cabinet and puking, smoking weed improperly and getting “super high” due to the placebo effect, snorting nutmeg because they’re dumb enough to reenact Dateline reports – despite the phrasing, these scenarios are positive.

Braiyden’s reticence to do hard drugs renders him forever exiled to Poser City, but you can relax knowing he won’t develop a chemical dependency—or fatally overdose. It’s hard to brag about a dead kid when it was your responsibility to keep him breathing.

4. A Façade That Crumbles When Challenged

We’ve arrived at the most viscerally irritating sign: a hard exterior that’s completely undermined by a soft, overly emotional center. From Iggy Pop cutting his chest with glass to Donita Sparks flinging her used tampon at a restless audience, your child has many icons of punk attitude to emulate. But without any basis for this attitude, it manifests in lil’ bitch-ass ways, like changing the family computer’s home screen to goatse and replacing “I love you” with “Fuck off!” in their vocabulary.

Though annoying, such a persona crumbles when challenged. Your child will still cry after being grounded and hide their report cards from you. They’ll enlist older siblings to engage in physical fights on their behalf. In response, martial arts classes—where they’ll get their ass beat in an educational, useful way—should do the trick.

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If your child consistently exhibits at least two of these behaviors, their punk credibility is in danger – or else, you’ve got a square kid on your hands (a subject for another article).

But all is not lost. Once detected, the onset of poserdom can be slowed or stopped altogether. Subject your child to peer harassment in a secure environment with at least one cool adult supervising. We’re talking low-key bullying that builds character, not full-on torment that inspires Lifetime movies. It’s best to not personally supervise as kids have trouble being truly kickass around their parents.

It’s painful to watch your child struggle, but blindly enabling a lack of coolness is irresponsible. Take every measure possible to protect your family from the humiliating poser lifestyle.