My in-laws were visiting us one time, long before we had children. We had gone out to eat and as we sat there in the restaurant, they began to lecture. “You can’t be your child’s friend. You have to be the parent. Parents will always be parents.” The irony of what they said as they sat talking to their adult son seemed to be lost on them. He was grown. He no longer needed a parent, and because his parents were never his friends, they really had no place left in his life.
It’s possible to be your child’s parent and their friend. One does not negate the other. In fact, parents who are both parent and friend to their children find that only strengthens the bond they have with their children. As children grow older, they need less parental help in life. Those children who have a mutually respectful relationship with their parents find that the friendship aspect only strengthens with time, rather than the relationship diminishing as their need for parents diminishes.
My children, along with my husband, are my best friends. Friends don’t always share all of the same interests. They don’t even always agree with one another. However, friends are supportive of one another, even when they are unsupportive of specific decisions or actions. It is not impossible to be both parent and friend to one’s children with respectful, honest communication. In fact, it’s crucial if parents want a strong relationship with their children to continue past childhood.
I couldn’t agree with this post any more wholeheartedly. My parents were always parents and never friends, and now that I have a son of my own, I realize how saddened I would be if he were in his late 20s and feeling like we had nothing more to offer each other because he didn’t need a parent anymore. My in laws are very much peers of ours; every time we go over to my MIL’s house we talk politics, movies, cooking, anything we are interested in, and all opinions are equally respected. At my parents’ house, it’s never been like that. I know what kind of environment I want to create for my children, and it’s one where we can discuss anything that they are interested in openly and honestly, with respect.