20 Times Kids Found Out Their Parents Were Once Way Cooler Than Them

As young children, we tend to idolize our parents. But when we enter our teenage years and beyond, we usually start to comprehend that they’re just normal people and typically pretty uncool. The kids of these folks, however, can’t relate. Yes, they’ve all experienced that one moment where they realized their parents were so much cooler than they themselves could ever hope to be.

20. This skateboarding mom

My mother skateboarding barefoot in California in 1974.

Not everyone can pull off looking cool on a skateboard, even when they’re young. But this mom clearly has it down – just look how confidently she’s sailing down the street, and barefoot at that. We’ll just assume that chipped tooth has nothing to do with her actual skateboarding skills.

19. This grilling dad

I found a photo of my Dad cooking a barbecue on top of a moving Submarine

There’s nothing that says, “You’ll never be this cool,” like your dad firing up the barbie atop a moving submarine. This photo was snapped in 1983 on board the Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Onslow, a vessel that’s currently on display in a museum. We don’t think cranking up the BBQ there will have quite the same effect, though.


18. This artistic dad

My dad sculpting a bust of my mom 1980s

When was the last time you sculpted a bust of anyone? Probably never. Now imagine finding out your dad once spent a romantic evening sculpting a bust of your mom, and there’s the photo to prove it. Yeah, that would definitely be the moment you realized your parents are way cooler than you – or once were anyway.

17. This smart skateboarding dad


My dad skateboarding at Hyde school 1982. I think he was cooler than me.

We think he was cooler than you too, and we don’t even know you. After all, the longer we look at this picture, the cooler it gets: he’s in a suit, on a skateboard, in sunglasses, holding a briefcase, and to top it all off, he’s barefoot. Yeah, he’s probably cooler than everyone…

16. This teenage Camaro driver

My mom at 16 yrs old with her Camaro in 1975.

Cars these days may be more practical, functional and safer, but it’s hard to deny they’ve lost a lot of cool factor. The 1970s, then, was a great time to be a teenager. Indeed, it’s hard not to look awesome driving one of these around, and this mom is rocking it.


15. This dad on horseback

My Dad being infinitely cooler than I’ll ever be. (1980)


This looks like something straight out of a late ’70s Hollywood movie, so for it to be real life says it all. Yep, this dad has set a legacy for being cool that kids can realistically never hope to live up to. And that’s not even taking into account how difficult this shot would have been to capture on film…

14. This possible spy

My mom in Moscow 1975. From all the stories she’s told me about her travels, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was a spy.

Even if she wasn’t a spy, this photo would still be insanely cool. But that added layer of depth, intrigue and mystery? Well, that just seals the deal. Yes, the sweet ride, the leather coat and the beautiful backdrop all conspire to ensure that this woman’s kids will forever live in her shadow.


13. This hand skateboarding dad


For my first Cake Day I present my Dad. He wasn’t famous, but his moves were pretty cool (1977)

Okay, so skateboarding barefoot is pretty cool. And skateboarding barefoot in a suit definitely ramps it up a notch. But skateboarding with your hands? This dad clearly just takes the cake for coolest skateboarding photo. And really, that’s a title his kids will be unlikely to claim any time soon…

12. This deep diving dad

My dad in Saudi Arabia in the 70’s working as a US military contractor diving in the Red Sea.

Apparently, this badass dad spent his days in the ’70s mapping underwater terrain and searching for sunken ships. That already puts him a few levels above the rest of us on the coolness charts (those definitely exist). But just in case it wasn’t enough to convince you, the job also involved regular paid travel to other countries, purely for visa reasons. Color us jealous.


11. This newly married couple


My mom and dad on their wedding day – 1980

This looks like something straight out of a Lana Del Rey music video, so you already know it’s cool. But then you realize it’s the happy couple’s wedding day, and it all gets way, way cooler. After all, you have to have a certain amount of pizzazz to ride off on a motorcycle, complete with cans in tow.

10. This unicycling dad

48 beers and a unicycle. My dad in the early 80s.

To be fair, this dad would never have been able to balance properly with just a single crate. So, you see, he had to buy two. Why exactly he needed to get on the unicycle at all is another mystery, but there’s no denying it makes him look like the coolest guy in town.


9. This dad carrying Magic Johnson


So I was going through some old photos and I found this. My Dad holding Magic Johnson and looking incredibly badass while doing it.

This scene looks like it’s straight out of a cartoon, but it is in fact real life. Yep, that’s their real dad, holding the real Magic Johnson at a Lakers picnic. And not just any picnic, but one where he beat Johnson at volleyball. Afterwards, the dad apparently lifted the future superstar into his arms, because the scene clearly just wasn’t cool enough already.

8. This bass-playing mom

My mom circa 1986. Happy Mother’s day y’all

It doesn’t get much more ’80s than slapping the bass in the basement. At least, when the basement looks like this, anyway – the wood paneling and brown furnishings are quintessential ’80s. Of course, that doesn’t automatically make you look cool. This mom’s just doing it with supreme style.


7. This delighted dad


Dad in 1969. I’d love to know how this happened.

We’d love to know how this happened too. Clearly, the free-loving spirit of the ’60s wasn’t lost on this guy, nor the women who are seemingly flocking to him. No matter the backstory, though, this is very obviously a scene that his kids could only dream of happening to them.

6. This mom in a tank

My mother when she was a tank instructor in 1984.

It’s basically impossible not to look cool while driving a tank, and you don’t even need to glorify the war machines to do it. Indeed, just one look at this mom tells you that she was an absolute badass in the ’80s. At least her kids have something to aspire to, even if they’ll never really be as cool.


5. This surfing dad


My dad, taken for Surfer Magazine. Peru, 1977.

This is really a once-in-a-lifetime shot considering that digital photography wasn’t a thing in the ’70s. And while much of the credit goes to the photographer, not just anyone could have pulled off looking as cool as this on the waves. Yeah, this dad is clearly an absolute beast on the board.

4. This motorbike-riding dad

Late 1960s, my Dad.

Those cheekbones; that hair; that piercing stare. Put it all together, throw in a motorbike and what do you get? Well, a guy that really looks like he belongs in a 1950s Hollywood movie and is certainly way too cool for words. And somehow, he’s still pulling off the barefoot aesthetic perfectly.


3. This skiing dad


My dad in the 70’s doing what he loves. Father to 4 boys. More man than myth or legend.

We’re just in awe at everything about this picture and its backstory. Not only did this guy raise four children, but he also apparently spent his free time pulling off crazy ski stunts in a state of undress. While his kid may call him a man, we’re very happy to go with “legend.”

2. This mom taking a selfie

My moms selfie before it was cool (1989)

It’s not often you can call people true pioneers, but that’s clearly what this mom was. After all, who else in 1989 was out there taking selfies? Well, probably plenty of people, but that doesn’t diminish how cool this mom was – and how ahead of her time, considering how popular they are nowadays.


1. This Ryan Gosling lookalike


My dad in France is the ’70s (Ryan Gosling might need a paternity test)!

We agree: Mr. Gosling, please take a paternity test. Looking at this picture, there’s a good chance the actor’s father is actually a random guy who spent time in France in the ’70s. After all, it wouldn’t just be his facial features that this guy passed on, but how effortless he makes looking cool.