Old wisdom says, “Kids need you to be their parent, not their friend.” I’ve always wondered why it can’t be both. I recently polled dozens of parents to see if they think it’s possible to be friends with kids. The responses were torn.
“After 26 years of parenting, I can tell you that parent over friend is the way to go. Once they’re adults, friendship forms, but kids take advantage when mom is your buddy.”
“We have both adult children and a little one. When they are young they need us to be their parents and not their friends.”
“Children need to be taught, guided, disciplined and molded. Friends don’t do this first – parents do. As a teacher of 13 years, I’d say about 60% of the issues I’ve seen in my career are because of weak parenting and attempts at being the “cool” parent or an immature parent treating their children as equals and friends.”
Of course, parents can be friends with their kids.
“I think there’s a parent/friend percentage. I’m noticing as my children get older and I give them more space to make their own decisions (and of course their own consequences), that former parenting space is taken over by more of a friend dynamic.”
“What I have learned as a parent is that it is love that bridges both roles. It has been so wonderful to learn how the roles interchange as your children grow. It’s about the relationship.”
“I’m my13-year-old daughter’s parent first and foremost. She respects me and my decisions; however, we are also the best of friends. I don’t laugh harder, talk seriously, listen and love unconditionally with anyone like I do with her. We have a fantastic relationship.”
Parents first, friends later.
“Growing up, kids need a parent. Once they are adults, they need a friend.”
“Definitely a parent relationship, which gradually evolves into friend as a child becomes an adult. I’ve had several elementary students whose parents tend to lean toward friend regularly way too early, and those tend to be the kids who have behavior and defiance issues at school. They love their kids and mean well, but it just usually doesn’t work. I have found that this seems to happen most often with single parents and/or only children. It’s easier said than done though. I’ve caught myself more than once moving toward friend more than parent with my own daughter, especially during school breaks, and it’s really hard to backtrack and re teach behavior once you start.”
“They need both BUT the parent comes first and the friendship later. It’s a tough balance but one we all search to find, I think.”
I didn’t become friends with my mother until I was in my thirties. I take pride in being my daughter‘s parent and friend. She talks to me about things I never would have brought up with my own mom.
What do you think? Can you be friends with kids?