“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!
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Fabulous article; very positive. I am my child’s friend and proud of it.
Referring to Collela’s comment on what is apparently the concrete definition of friendship.. I don’t believe that the concept of friendship can be summarized into that sentence. I believe that there is a natural unconditional friendship between parent and child that allows for things like trust, open communication, levity, genuine interest in your childs thoughts even if they contradict your own beliefs. .ect. All of these things can exist alongside your parental limitations, rules, agenda… I strongly believe that limiting your parent-child relationship to being a “job” in order to make build them into the best person they can be may be detrimental to your relationship with them. I recognize that the relationship between you may not be your biggest priority however it is all about preference. Being your child’s friend is not about worrying over their opinion of you and vice versa. It’s about having those friendship qualities in times where the child needs it most from you. They need to be able to come home and feel comfortable talking about their thoughts, feelings, curiosities and so on. (Authoritarian parents have so many rules and expectations that theres not much room for these things) I can say that there is a wrong way to be a parent, I can also say that there is no wrong way to be a good parent. There’s nothing wrong with being a friend and a parent.
Staci H. says
Deb Colella says
Honestly…I think you are totally missing the point. I am my child’s parent. That does not mean that we do not share amazing times together doing things that we both love. But a friend is someone who will temper their interactions with you to ensure that you still like them as find them compatible with their persona. As my child’s parent, that is not something I should EVER do. It is my JOB to steer him in the right direction, even if that’s not the direction in which he wishes to go. My job is to do what is safe but not necessarily popular. My job is to grow him into the best adult he can be regardless of whether or not he likes who I am or what I do. My son has many friends… He needs something stronger than that to ensure he becomes the best person he can be. He needs a parent, and though that may share characteristics with friends it is definitely not the same thing.
Kate Lloyd says
Fabulous post Rachel. I completely agree with everything you’ve said. Friendship should absolutely be part of our relationship with our kids.
As always… LOVE LOVE LOVE what you write and share… 100% backup your wise words. Happy to know I’m not alone on those thoughts!! It’s very much Attachment Parenting and Mindfulness what you’re “preaching” here, love it.
Your words give me hope in a better world, where people begin to treat children with the same respect they would do to their spouses, or anyone else for that matter…
Whenever I’m doubtful about something regarding my child, I always substitute in the phrase “my child” with “my husband/mother/any other loved one” to see if it changes my mind… (something learned from my “guru” book pediatrician, Spanish Dr. Carlos Gonzalez).
Yes! Something I mindfully try to do too. Thanks so much for reading and for your support Claudia!