One of the most frustrating things that I encounter in my line of work is when a parent is more interested in being their child’s friend than they are in actually parenting the child. I get it, you want your kid to like you. You want to have a close relationship. Here’s the deal, there are better ways.
Janet Lehman (www.empoweringparents.com) tells us that,
If being your kids’ friend was enough to raise them successfully, we would all probably parent that way. But our job is way more complicated than that. Children and teens really crave boundaries, limits and structure. At the same time, they also need some healthy separation from us as they go through adolescence and develop into adults. Our role as parents is really to teach, coach and give our kids consequences when they misbehave. If you slip into that friend role, however, it’s virtually impossible to lay down the law and set limits on your child’s inappropriate behavior.
When we stop trying to set those boundaries, we have lost the authority that we should have over our children. Now, I am not saying that we should view our children as nothing more than our subordinates that we boss around all the time. However, in order for our children to develop into responsible adults (that should be every parent’s goal), we have to maintain a decent amount of authority over them. Attempting to be their “best friend” throws all of that out the window.
Listen, it’s okay to have children that are mad at you from time to time. They do not have to be happy all the time, none of us do. As long as your children are not being abused or deprived of things that they are actually entitled to, it’s okay for them to be upset with you. I see a lot of parents who are quick to back down from their kids when the get into conflict over the rules. I understand this. You want a peaceful balance. However, if your child struggles with entitlements now, they will struggle with them even more as a teenager and even as an adult.
What you don’t see in that moment is the long range effect that these decisions in having on your child’s development. It is important for your child to learn boundaries. It is important for them to understand rules. Your child needs to see and be a part of a structured home. These are all lessons that carry over into adulthood but are much easier to learn when they are young.
At this point, I think we have to sit down and establish what exactly is the role of the parent. Noreen Kompanik nailed it on the head when she said, The number one role of a parent is to be the protector, model, and teacher. And a large part of that teaching involves demonstrating good judgment and making smart decisions. Kids need to learn how to make the right choices in life. And the place they learn it best (or worst) is in the home.
The number one role of a parent is to be protector, model and teacher. And a large part of that teaching involves demonstrating good judgment and making smart decisions. Kids need to learn how to make the right choices in life. And the place they learn it best (or worst) is in the home.
It is going to be incredibly difficult to establish this role with our children if we are undermining our own work by attempting to be our kid’s best friend as well.
Take a look at the relationship that you are fostering with your child. The said truth is that your kids are going to be grown up and out of your house before you even realize what happened.
Are you setting those boundaries now, while your children are young?
For the sake of your family and for the sake of your child, I hope you are.