Be a parent, not a friend.
Have people ever said these words to you?
When somebody first said this to me about my relationship with my 3 year old I was a bit shocked. I looked at my son and questioned whether I was getting parenting all wrong. The more I thought about it the more it kind of pissed me off. Why can't I be a friend to my child? Why do I have to choose between being a friend or a parent? Can't I be both?
Clearly some people think not. I disagree. I googled the definition of friend. Here is what i was presented with.
1. A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. A person who gives assistance; patron; supporter
3. A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.
4. A person who is not an enemy or opponent; an ally.
5. A familiar or helpful thing:
So forgive me if I'm wrong, but do all these definitions not also describe a parent? I am definitely attached to my son with affection and personal regard, I give him assistance and support him, we have a bond of mutual affection, I am definitely not an enemy, and I am obviously familiar and hopefully helpful!
So what is the issue here?
I get what the statement is trying to convey, but I just think it's a load of bollocks if I'm honest. At the tender age of 3 I think I'm probably my sons ONLY friend! We play together, laugh together, enjoy each others company, we learn from each other, and we have built a solid foundation of love, trust and respect.
Eventually there will come a time when he does have friends his age. He will confide in them, do stupid things with them, laugh, play, share secrets, and fall out with them. But I'd like to think he will always know that I am his friend too. I won't be his friend in the same way. I won't be sat with him, donning a pair of ripped denim shorts over tights and a crop top (or whatever the fashion is then) and smoking a spliff with him and his mates, whilst throwing back shots. However, I won't be so naive as to think he isn't getting up to these types of things. I don't want to know all his secrets, just as he probably wouldn't want to know mine. I do want him to know however that he CAN tell me anything and I will support him and guide him in the best way I know how. I want to be non judgmental and supportive. I want to always be honest, tell him when he's done something wrong or something I disagree with, give him advice and try my best to compromise on things we don't agree on.
I want him to know I'm approachable, that if he makes a mistake or gets himself in trouble he can turn to me and doesn't have to deal with it alone. I want him to know that I'll never turn my back on him and I will always respect him enough to allow him to make informed decisions. This is what being a parent means to me. I think as a parent you ARE a friend, and more. Yes there are boundaries. There are boundaries with all relationships. Relationships do not fit in to boxes where you can state "be this but don't be that". Be whatever you feel is appropriate. Be the best parent you can be. Be a parent who is a friend.
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