Nov 04, 2022
3 mins read
Here’s a question for you;
When is a friend, not your friend? … when they’re your parent.
Please feel free to object to this observation if you like, I don’t mind, but it seems that a lot of us Millennial parents have the whole “I’m their parent, not their friend” thing down in theory, but in practice are terrified of it. I honestly don’t think that I, as a child, ever even considered my parents as friends. They were friend-ly, but that’s as far as that goes. They were my parents. They loved and looked after me the best they knew how, and I respected them for it, and still do. There’s a very clear distinction between how I see friends, and how I see my parents.
Don’t come after me, but I cringe when I hear parents calling their kids their best friends. As far as I see it, that is not going to go well for either party. As the kid grows up and makes their own friends, the parent will probably end up feeling rejected, and when they fly the nest, will grieve hard. That kind of relationship between parent and child ‘friends’ has got to be made up of “making each other happy” moments. Frankly, for me the job of a parent is not that. Not JUST that anyway. My goal as Dad is to raise healthy, balanced people who can navigate this world with or without my help. Sure, I want them to be happy, but that’s not the yard-stick.
My kids are ages 10, 7, and 5. They take it in turns to be mad at me for something. The best example is my 10 year old’s new-found hatred of parental controls on his phone or Nintendo Switch. He is a prisoner in his own home because parental controls stop him having all of the fun, and he doesn’t feel the safety they’re supposed to bring. Well, once he’d calmed down from this rant, I calmly explained why we have them, why I’m glad they are in place, and that this is not a point for negotiation. With some empathy, he was able to accept the firm boundary that will be staying until we say so. He may not like it, and it may make him somewhat unhappy that I won’t let him play certain games, or watch certain TV shows or movies - but for me, his internal well being is much more important than his opinion of me. I love him too much to let him do all the things he wants, and not be aware of life’s consequences.
I told a non-parent friend of mine recently that parenting really is just slowly, but surely, allowing your kids, as they grow, to be exposed to life’s ‘dangers’. As they grow physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, we start to relinquish control of them and their choices - we put down our gatekeeper keys, and as they become adults, we pray they have at least most of the tools they need to manage in life.
I get the feeling, while writing this, that this will become a longer think-piece in time. I hope you’ll consider becoming a Supporter or Member on my Buy Me A Coffee page to see it when it’s published.
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