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Be Their Parent, Not Their Friend

One of the most difficult things about your kids growing older is the way you somehow morph from being the wisest person in the world who they want to be around all the time to the person who doesn’t have a clue about anything (in their eyes) and who they cringe at the thought of being seen with.  Ah yes, the teen years–you’ve got to love them.  Seriously though, it really is enough to make you want to stop hounding your kids about the things you KNOW are right.  It can be staying on top of them about their school work, watching what they’re eating (“A piece of fruit is what you’re having for snack, not a box of cookies!”), or more serious things like drugs and alcohol.

I bring this topic up because recently I’ve noticed that some of my peers are having an equally difficult time dealing with this as well and from a variety of different things that have happened around our community it makes me wonder if they’re taking the route of friend over parent.  On our school’s website there is a downloadable sheet for parents titled, “A Parent’s Guide to Teenage Parties.”  It contains helpful little nuggets like, “agree to rules ahead of time that might include: no alcohol, no drugs, etc.”  Seriously??  I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but I find it hard to believe that any responsible parent wouldn’t already know this.  However, this is the problem–so many parents don’t like that they’re considered outside the “in” crowd of their child’s friends and they will go to great lengths to win back that kind of affection from their teens.

I admit that this is a difficult time as a parent and I’ll sum up my own perspective like this:  I don’t particularly like that the kids are more distant right now, but I understand it’s part of growing up.  I also understand that I do know what is best for them and although they may not agree or like it right now, one day they will realize it too.  In the meantime, I’m going to continue making unpopular choices if it’s for their welfare, even if that means they don’t like me right now.  I’d rather them grumble about me, but be safe and healthy than think I’m cool, while potentially putting them at risk in one way or another.  Besides, my kids have enough friends–they’ve only got one mom.

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  1. Thank you so much for offering this point of view! As a married adult with no children, I’ve seen a parade of my friends trying to be a friend to their children. When I gently (and I mean GENTLY) asked if that was an appropriate way to build the parent-child relationship, I’ve essentially been told that since I don’t have children, I don’t have grounds to question their method.

    But I know this — my parents were never my “friends.” They were my mother and father. Our relationship changed over the years, but I always understood that they were more experienced and had the wisdom I lacked.

    Does my not having children mean that I don’t know a whit about parent-child relationships? C’mon! I was a child with parents. And I’ve certainly seen many parent-child relationships that were unsuccessful, and a few that were very successful.

    Successful parent-child relationships, over the long haul, proved that involved, caring parents are what every child needs their mother and father to be. I thank God that my mother and father weren’t trying to befriend me. Their leadership was and is my strength as an adult.

    Thanks for the topic, and for letting me say my piece! :-)

  2. Something I have learned is that so many parents don’t like that they’re considered outside the “in” crowd of their child’s friends and they will go to great lengths to win back that kind of affection from their teens… not really original but worth sharing. ;)

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