Recently I had a conversation with someone who told me flat-out, “Parents can’t be friends with their children.” He went on to make a valid point: children need their parents to be authority figures in their lives, not just fun playmates.
But the phrase has been stuck in my head ever since. “Parents can’t be friends with their children.” It’s a topic that I’ve been developing an opinion on for years now. And this is what I believe: Friendship is a very important part of parenting.
I believe very strongly that parents need to establish themselves as authority figures. We need to be consistent with discipline and always follow through with what we say we’re going to do. Children need set boundaries and they need to know that there will be definite consequences when they cross those boundaries.
But on the flip side, I can’t remember a time when my children and I didn’t have moments of just being relaxed and playing or laughing together. I tease them, they tease me back. They’re fun kids, with bright minds and great senses of humor; they get more witty and fun to be with every day. The older they get, the more often we have those relaxed “friend to friend” moments. I treasure that aspect of my relationship with each of them – because those are often the moments when they show me little peeks inside their hearts.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point my mom became one of my best friends. Soon after I realized that, I was hit with this revelation: I am raising people who will someday be some of my best friends. What a cool opportunity. It changed the way I parent. It’s a fine line to walk, and I’m sure my role as a parent will be a little different with each child. In the beginning the ratio might be something like 90% authority figure, 10% friend. But by the time they’re grown and ready to leave home, those numbers should have flipped. Judah is 13 now, and over half of our conversations feel more like friend to friend than parent to child.
Let’s be honest. I barely know what I’m talking about, right? I’ve been a parent for 13 and a half short years. None of my kids have “turned out” yet. But if they do grow up and prove me and my theories right, I’m going to write a book: The Common Sense, Full of Nonsense Guide to Raising Godly Children Who Like Their Parents and Who Are Liked By Other People. You’d buy a copy, right?
If you never run across that book in Barnes & Noble, assume that something went wrong and instead look for the book about all my inconsistencies and failures as a parent. That one will be titled Am I the Only Mom Whose Kid Got a Fruit of the Spirit Stuck up His Nose?