“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself — and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”—Jim Morrison
There is little that goes on in our lives today, if your are a parent, that creates more excitement, disagreement, and conversation than the discussion that ensues about whether or not parents should be their kids friend or remain their parent. There are also a number of misconceptions as to what that means. It is not black and white. It is not cut and dried. But it can get complicated if one of the parents or both for that matter can’t see the distinctions.
Is it possible to have a close, meaningful, active and fun loving relationship with your kids and yet retain a parent-child posture with clear boundaries and responsibilities? Absolutely. Whose the adult here and who is the child? The adult needs to establish, reinforce and demonstrate those boundaries often in helpful, nurturing and caring ways. It is up to the adult to present the characteristics of what the relationship with his/her children will look like and the purpose it will serve. For some children a ‘friendship’ with Mom or Dad can be very confusing. Let’s consider the purpose or functions of parents. Parents are challenged and expected to be mentors, teachers, protectors and role models for their sons regarding how they need to act around others especially females and the importance of respecting others and their rights as human beings.
If your child is female then Mom needs to demonstrate what is appropriate and what is not. Dad needs to help her understand what to expect from a male and how she needs and deserves to be treated. He also needs to model that behavior when interacting with Mom. Our children need us to lead the way as their parents in this regard. Parents need to model appropriate behavior when settling disputes and disagreements with other people when in public or over the side yard fence. They need to model appropriate public respect and behavior for themselves and others in a way that is not punishing or embarrassing.
Parents also have experience to draw on so when junior asks the tough questions about relationships or what is right or wrong and why, he/she will get the correct answers or responses. Friends don’t do this kind of stuff nor are they supposed to. Many are also not equipped emotionally or mentally to provide responses that are clear, concise and understood. Friends seldom say ‘no’ where parents often need or feel the need to do so. If a parent says ‘no’ then they need to be clear about why they are saying ‘no’. These are the opportunities that present themselves as learning opportunities–another ‘something’ that friends are not able to manage.
Instilling a sense of self-confidence along with the ability to self-assess their skills and talents is extremely important to the overall development of a child. My belief is that this is one of the things that is lacking in many of our kids today. Too many feel entitled to success some how. It seems as though they were never helped to understand that they need to earn success.
The school system itself needs to own much of this criticism because of it’s unwillingness to treat and teach our kids as whole learners. ( To know more about this go to jimcloughley.com –click on Programs–Help Our Kids Learn) . Present day school systems are content to deal with education from the neck up believing that more data crammed into their heads is the way to go and that rote learning, which is an outdated and ineffectual way of teaching our kids today, is the way to learn. Having said this it makes the role of the parent all that more important today.
Our kids have friends to play with and to dream with and to experience ‘kids things’ with. They need parents to help them live life on life’s terms. This by no means suggests that parents can’t have a wonderful, close, meaningful, fulfilling, and fun filled relationship with their kids. It just means that there is more to the job than being an entertainment coordinator for your kids. Parents are the most important asset and resource that our kids will ever have. Let’s give them what they need to succeed. Their friends will take care of the less important stuff.
Anyways, that’s how I see things. Agree or disagree send me your comments and your thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for stopping by.
(Image by advantage4parents.com. I derive no financial benefit for the use of this image.)