I’ve often wondered when the “parent-as-best-friend” trend started. I first became conscious of it as a teen watching Gilmore Girls, but it probably was a thing even before then.
We want our children to not just love us but like us too, and we want them to be able to confide in us, telling us any and everything. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, of course, but the hidden trap is that many parents in seeking this attempt to be their child’s best friend. This is a recipe for parenting disaster, because a best friend is a best friend and a parent is a parent. The roles are different.
More than friendship, your child needs you to be their parent.
Yes, by all means be your child’s friend, but never let this undermine your role as a parent. You are a parent, so parent. Take charge, and do it effectively. Parenting is not about bullying, manipulating of controlling your children. It’s about nurturing and guiding them, and this requires empathy and leadership which helps you create an atmosphere of camaraderie in the home, and instill a sense of responsibility in your children. You don’t have to control your children to parent them, neither do you have to swing to the other extreme, afraid to take charge or enforce discipline lest they cease to “like” you.
Any parent doing their job right has probably heard (or will hear at some point) a variant of “I don’t like you anymore” or “I’m not sure you’re my real mother/father” depending on the child’s age. Well guess what? You’re a parent first before “friend” so that’s okay. It will pass.
Children who have committed, firm, loving parents who actively parent them, thrive best.
Your children need to know that you’re willing and ready to lead, that they’re not without a captain; even the teenagers, although they may not show it and their words and actions may suggest otherwise.
Best friend is not who you’re called to be to the ones you brought into this world. If you focus on that, you’ll sink the ship, but if you channel your energy into parenting, you’ll raise children who will love, respect and appreciate you for it.
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