One day, if my creator allows it and I'm blessed with children, I want to be a friend to them.
Friends? With children? My grandmother would probably get chest pains just reading that statement. I for one feel that times are changing, and an element of friendship with your children really wouldn't be the worst thing. I always wonder why it is still so demonised.
I don't fully regard being friends with children as "new-age parenting", more of an important thing for strengthening the relationship with your children and making it the most loving one possible. It's not about "hanging with the kids" to feel young either, but creating an even deeper bond.
Having a close bond with your child where you're able to communicate openly is truly something special. But is there ever a point where it becomes "too much"?
A big concern for many parents is that their children won't take them seriously or will take advantage of their relationship, but I think what's even worse is hearing things like, "My parents don't understand me" or "I wish my parents would listen to me." You'd be surprised how common that is.
Communication is far too valuable to ever be that kind of parent; being closer to your child and feeling like a part of their world must be unparalleled.
I truly don't believe that friendship with children and disrespect go hand in hand. Yes, there are obviously going to be moments where your child's actions may disappoint you but this will happen regardless, it's part of life. I feel that you can still set rules and be a friend to your child.
The "your child needs to know you are their parent" line is so outdated for me. I mean, obviously your child knows you are the parent. I feel like it should be more about your child respecting you as a parent, knowing what the boundaries are and clearly understanding the rules you set.
One of our previous articles, "Are you a mom or a friend?" , talks about a mother who lost custody of both of her sons for being the "cool mom" who allowed them to skip school. This would be an example of taking it a bit too far and not having clear boundaries. Each to their own though, but these incidents are the ones that make parents skeptical to be too friendly with children.
A friend is someone who wants the best for you and wants you to progress, and in this case, keeping your child out of school will do nothing of the sort.
Another example that comes to mind is the mom in Mean Girls, who constantly tries to be friends with her daughter by encouraging negative behaviour, which naturally causes her to daughter to act out. It's all relative though, and it's about knowing when to draw the line. It is essentially dependent on how you raise your children and the life lessons and values you instill in them.
For some parents, maintaining a friendship with their children is the norm. From personal experience and witnessing other parents who adopt this habit, I feel that it really isn't all that bad. I always admire parents who have a good friendship with their children, I know a few of them and their kids are just fine. In fact, the amount of complaints about parents by children are significantly lower than those who don't have an element of friendship.
A good friend is also someone who never invalidates your feelings, a confidant, someone you turn to when you have a problem, someone to celebrate life with. If these are important elements of your relationship with friends, then why is the same not valid for the relationship with your children? It's also been said that having a solid friendship with your significant other makes your relationship more successful, so maybe friendship is the key?
I feel it's important to find a balance – there are certain things that everyone would prefer to be kept private. For example, on social media. Grant your child their freedom and don't be too invasive and they'll do the same with other elements you'd prefer being private.
Children always need to feel safe and secure. I know people who become so anxious to talk to their parents about certain things and I would never want to know that my child is too afraid to speak to me about anything. I would rather have them come to me when they have a problem because I'm someone who they will trust and always have their best interests at heart.
Ideally, I would want my children to communicate their issues and not bottle things up and risk facing serious inner turmoil that could be bad for their mental health.
- Also see: What is your child's love language?
To maintain such a close relationship with the little human I produced would be amazing. When I grow older one day and my children move out, I want them to want to be around me because of the strong relationship we have and not feel obligated to maintain a relationship with me to spare my feelings.
Lastly, I don't want my children to fear me; I truly believe that the opposite of love is fear. I want my children to respect me. I want them to know that I love them and want the best for them and through their respect for me, they'll make the best choices for themselves.
I know that at the end of the day it sounds like an ideology and it may seem strange to people who don't agree, but ultimately it's about YOUR relationship with YOUR child, and whichever way that manifests the healthiest, do that. I'm just over here, hoping the precious friendship dynamic would be mine.
It's never too late to start being a parent to your child.
Do you have a good friendship dynamic with your child? Do you feel this works for you? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.
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