Parents Just Don't Understand

"Parents Just Don't Understand" is the second single from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's second studio album, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards, one of the two songs to do so before the award was discontinued in 1991. It peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] The song was released as a single in spring 1988. The song was referenced several times in the television show The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. The song was ranked number 96 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop, and the music video was featured in the 2003 film Malibu's Most Wanted.

"Parents Just Don't Understand"
Parents Just Dont Understand.jpg
Single by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
from the album He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
ReleasedFebruary 17, 1988
GenreGolden age hip hop
  • 4:13 (Radio edit)
  • 5:35 (Album version)
Songwriter(s)Pete Harris, Will Smith, Jeffrey Townes
Producer(s)Harris, Smith, Townes, Bryan "Chuck" New
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince singles chronology
"Brand New Funk"
"Parents Just Don't Understand"
"A Nightmare on My Street"
Audio sample


The song's two major verses involve The Fresh Prince's problems with his own parents, who he feels do not understand the difficulties of being a teenager. The first verse is a recollection of when he went school-shopping with his whole family, including his brother and their younger sister, at the Gallery Mall. The Prince's mother bought him a whole wardrobe that was way against his style, getting "Zips" shoes instead of Adidas, along with Sha Na Na-style outfits (with a brief mention of Bowzer), bell-bottom Brady Bunch trousers, double-knit reversible slacks, a $20.00 plaid shirt with a butterfly collar, and the like. His mother insists on buying all the articles of clothing she picked out for her son, in spite of his objections, stating, "You go to school to learn, not for a fashion show." The Prince soon tries to skip school on the first day by faking an illness (the music video shows him heating a thermometer with a lighter) so that he cannot go, with little success. Forced to wear such uncool clothes, The Fresh Prince suffers inevitable embarrassment on his first day at school.

The second verse explains what happens when he takes the family Porsche out for a spin – despite having no driver's license – while his parents are on a long vacation. He picks up a beautiful girl and takes her to McDonald's. When the Prince floors the car to show how fast it can go, he gets pulled over for speeding – and discovers the beauty he picked up was a tween runaway. The cop arrests him for driving without a license, and the Porsche is impounded. His parents are forced to come home early from vacation to bail him out, and angrily administer severe physical discipline on the drive home. Nevertheless, the Fresh Prince tells his audience that "parents just don't understand".

Notable cover versionsEdit

Lil' Romeo, 3LW, and Nick Cannon recorded a cover for the Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius soundtrack. T-Squad covered the song on their only album T-Squad.[2]

Track listingEdit

7" Vinyl
  1. "Parents Just Don't Understand" – 4:13
  2. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Instrumental) – 4:06
12" Vinyl
  1. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Danny D Mix) – 6:20
  2. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Original 7" Version) – 5:13
  3. "Live At Union Square, November 1986" – 4:03
American 12" Vinyl
  1. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Extended Mix) – 5:27
  2. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Single Edit) – 4:13
  3. "Parents Just Don't Understand" (Instrumental) – 4:06
  4. "Live At Union Square, November 1986" – 4:03


Chart (1988) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[3] 49
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 28
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[4] 13
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 87
US Billboard Hot 100 12
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard) 10


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[5] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^
  2. ^ T-Squad - Parents Just Don't Understand
  3. ^ " – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don't Understand". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  4. ^ " – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don't Understand". Top 40 Singles.
  5. ^ "American single certifications – DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don't Understand". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit