I, along with everyone else, have heard the statement, “what your child needs is a parent, not another friend,” and each time I hear those words, I cringe. I truly believe that statement was made by someone who, unfortunately, had lost his or her way in parenting. What other relationship should a parent desire between his or her child? Certainly as parents, we should not seek to act their age or even seek to cause them to grow up faster than they should, but perhaps there is a place that parent and child can meet that is somewhere in the middle. A place where the parent can successfully be both disciplinary and friend.
In a family setting, everyone has their titled roles (sister, brother, mother, father, etc.). What good then are these roles if friendship doesn’t exist among them? A friend is a person of whom one knows and has a bond of mutual affection. So, the notion that being friends with your child may interfere with disciplining your child is nonsense. Just as in any friendship, boundaries are set and acknowledged. And boundaries (rules) that are set by the parents are adhered to by the child simply because the child innately loves his parents and have been raised to respect them. Respect, then, should definitely begin at home .
Friendship is the Ultimate Relationship
As a mother of three teenagers (twins that are 17, and a 15 year old), I couldn’t imagine raising them any other way. I have always considered myself a friend to my children. After all, being a friend is the ultimate goal to be reached in any relationship. When they were small children, I was the one who played games with them, acted silly with them on many occasions, took them all to the movies, and gave them advice when needed. Some may say that doing those things with my children is just my job as a mother. Well, I disagree. My job as a parent is to clothe, feed, teach (often by example), and to keep them safe. Now that my kids have gotten older, why would I want to become distant and controlling? Especially now during the years that they need my guidance most. Today, we still act silly together, go to the movies, play games, and I allow them to confide in me whenever they feel it necessary. Has any of the friendliness we’ve experienced interfered with me being a disciplinary? Of course not. To be honest, I’ve never had to do much disciplining, overall. My kids are very much aware of what I expect from them because I had established that early on. They also know that how they carry themselves is how the world will perceive them. However, my kids aren’t perfect and neither am I, but they do know (and have always known) that I’m the one that’s in charge and not the other way around.
Understand that in being friends with your children doesn’t mean talking to them as you would your peers, nor watching an inappropriate movie or t.v. show with them. It means using common sense and finding a balance between being too lax and being too controlling. For more helpful tips on how to balance being a parent and a friend, read article Parent or Friend: Do I Have to Choose?