You can’t be a good parent and be friends with your kids.
Your kids won’t respect you if you try to be their friend.
It sends mixed messages to your children if you try to be their friend and then parent them.
I’m their parent, not their friend….
How many times have you seen or heard one of those statements? I see them all the time. I hear people say them and hear other parents agree and all I can think is that is utter and total bullshit.
Yep, I said it. Disagree with me if you want, but the idea that you shouldn’t be friends with your kids, or that you are somehow a bad parent if you try to be is a complete load of crap.
I am a firm believer that you not only can be friends with your kids, but that you should be. That forming a base friendship with your children is incredibly important especially as you enter the teen years.
I’m not talking about always trying to be the “fun” mom or being the mom that throws keggers at their house when your kids get to high school. I’m talking about having a connected relationship with your kids that goes above and beyond just being their parent.
I’m talking about having a relationship where you are not simply an authority figure that they listen to and obey because they have to or because they fear you. I’m talking about having mutual respect that makes them want to make you proud, and lets them talk to you if they feel like they are failing at something.
Related Post- Raising Kids to be Teens Who Talk to You
You see friendship isn’t always about giving your kids what they want. It’s about treating them like people, looking at your relationship with them as something that isn’t just temporary while they are kids but looking at is as a lifelong bond that you want to continue to grow and nurture. And when you truly look at it you start to realize that the relationship your kids have with their friends is the kind of relationship you want to have with them.
Think about it.
There are a lot of reasons to be friends with your kids
They listen to, respect, and talk with their friends. They go to them for advice and listen to what they have to say. They share with them about their day, their troubles, their triumphs! The respect what their friends have to say, they stand up for them, and they care about maintaining their relationships with them.
They want to spend time with their friends. They choose to spend their free time with people they connect with. And yes, as they get older the majority of that time is going to be spent with their peers. But if you have a great relationship with your kids they’ll choose to spend some of it with you. It may come in conversations while you’re cooking dinner, or rare Friday night when they’re not busy that you watch a movie together. But you won’t have to seek them out to spend time because they’ll choose to be there.
They are open and honest with their friends, and aren’t afraid to talk to them about anything. When you foster an atmosphere of friendship, trust, and honesty in your relationship with your kids they’ll come to you when they need to talk. In fact, they may come to you with things they don’t even want to talk to their friends about because they know that your advice is what they need.
They don’t always agree with their friend, they sometimes get mad and argue with them. There is a common misconception that if you have a friendship with your kids you can’t punish them or argue with them. That they’re kid is going to come out with, “I thought we were friends.” Well they might, but so what? They argue with their friends, they even go through times where they might not want to speak to them. But the foundation of a great relationship helps mend those times, they miss that person in their life, and it’s important to them to fix things.
I think what trips some people up about this idea is that this friendship is different than the ones you have with other adults, in that you don’t go to your child with your problems. You can call up your best friend and bitch about your husband, complain if your finances are tight, or talk about other personal problems. Yes, that part is different. That is where this friendship is a little more of a one-way street with your kids.
But you can talk to them about some things. Sharing parts of your life, frustrations at work, things you are excited about, or a funny story about your day. It connects you, it lets them know you as a person and not just this mysterious mom figure who cooks dinner and tells them to do their homework.
The other objection people seem to have is that you can’t give your child rules, or impose any limits if you’re their friend. Once again, I call BS. Having a friendship with your child doesn’t negate your role as a parent. Your child understands that your role, just the same as you do. This idea of being your child’s friend is about your relationship, not your family roles. You can still tell them,”no you can’t eat 15 cookies”, or “you must be home by midnight.” They might not like it, and there are times you have to put your foot down and you may not like having to do it. But your parent child roles are still there, they are just functioning with a great friendship behind them.
The moments you have to play video games, jump on a trampoline, or laugh together at a stupid cat video on YouTube, they may seem unimportant, but those are friend things. While your kids don’t need you to do those things, they want to you to, and it moves your relationship in the right direction. You don’t have to look at your child and say, “Oh you’re my friend.” It is something they understand, it comes through actions and attitude.
My oldest is away at college, but he comes home pretty much every weekend. Even though I’ll see him mid-week I get a call, just to say hey, just to check in. Not because I told him to, but because he wants to. He wants to tell me about his week, his classes, his friends. My middle son came to me a few days ago to read me a series of texts between him and a friend, asking my advice on what to say, and we had a great conversation about what was going on. Yes, they do these things because I’m their mom and they love me, but they also do them because we have that kind of relationship.
My goal with my kids is to form a relationship based on love, trust, and open honest communication. It is important to me that it be filled with laughter, fun, and respect that goes both ways. I want home to be a place my boys want to come back to, and my relationship with them to be one they know they can count on.
And to me, that looks an awful lot like an awesome friendship.
What do you think? Do you believe its possible to be a great parent and be friends with your kids?
Take the 5 day self care challenge!!
Get the challenge delivered straight to your inbox & find time to take care of yourself!