“I am not your friend” I read in a recent popular post a mother wrote about what lessons she wants her children to know.
Why is society so afraid of parents being friends to their children?
To me, it’s like saying “I’m not my husband’s friend, I’m his wife!” Why not both?! Being a parent and being a friend are not mutually exclusive. I feel like saying you can’t be a friend to your child completely limits what parenting and friendship truly mean.
Being their friend doesn’t negate your role as a mother or parent – it enhances it!
I think when society views parents being friends of their children they imagine no boundaries or parents partying with their kids. But this is such a narrow view of friendship!
What is true friendship?
I know personally that I have personal boundaries for ALL of my relationships. Also, my friendships are so varied and adaptable! I don’t treat all my friends the same and my roles can be dramatically different.
Image by Kim
Why not then extend it to children – in particular the children you’re closest to? Why wait until they are adults themselves and living away from home to form a friendship? Why waste that incredible opportunity of decades of friendship with these amazing people?
It comes back to how society views children (read more in my post I don’t want to be viewed as a good parent by a society that thinks so little of children). Children tend to be seen as inferior. This simply isn’t a message I want to indirectly be sending to my kids.
I think there is also a fear that somehow friendship means the parent is not ‘in charge’. Ultimately, I think the role of parents shouldn’t be to control and manipulate children to begin with (here’s what we do instead). However, it’s not about losing responsibility. A parent can still be the guide and one to set the limits while being a friend. In fact, children are much more likely to listen to someone who genuinely and consistently shows and tells them that they value and respect them.
I think that as parents we have a unique and brilliant opportunity to teach our children what healthy friendships are like. Why not utilise this opportunity to help them learn effective communication, problem solving, and what relationships are all about?
Personally, I feel like all these parents proclaiming proudly that they’re not their child’s friend are tragically missing an opportunity and sending their children a negative message.
Why not have a parent-child relationship that includes friendship? You can provide a model of friendship that they can have and use throughout their lives.
Thank you for reading!