Our Story Begins:
I’m Not Your Friend
I am not my kids’ friend.
A strange statement, I get it. Some of you may say “well, duh! Of course not!” Others may go “that’s so terrible, of course you are your kids’ friend! You’re their best friend!”
Sometimes, especially today, I think we get too embroiled in wanting to make sure that our kids are happy and that they like us and we don’t ever want them to be upset with us because we love them so much. Let me give you a piece of advice: it’s because we love them so much that we can’t always be their friend.
I know, I know, you’re looking at this going “you’re splitting hairs now! You just said you can’t always be their friend!”
Yes, that’s true. You can be a friend to your kids but at the end of the day you are always their parent.
I say this because I’ve had a recent trend of running into those parents who don’t want to actually parent but really want to be their kids’ friend. This takes the form of:
- The Giver: This person gives shiny objects to their children. Trinkets, toys, clothes, hell I’ve seen cars. They give lots and lots of stuff to their kids hoping the kids like them.
- The Pleaser: This person bends over backwards to make their kids succeed and have everything and wants to be part of their lives, even chaperoning every single dance and decorating for every event. They think this makes their kids happier.
- The Popularity Contestant: This is the parent that wants to be part of the kids’ lives and hangs out with the kids and wants to be in on all the stuff them “hip cats” are doing. (The mere fact I used the phrase “hip cats” shows you I don’t fit into this cateogry)
There are certainly more categories. The reality is there are reasons and therapies and any number of things that happen to put people this way. For so long we are the world, every single part of our kids’ lives. So when they get older and begin to strike out on their own we feel like we’re left out.
Let’s just set the record straight: I don’t always like my kids. I have said this before. I always love them, I don’t always like them.
The reality of the situation is the fact that you can be a friend to your kids but you are not their friend, you’re not in their social circle. When a boy treats your girl like crap they will likely tell their best friend . . . and that’s probably not you. That’s part of growing up, both for your kids and for you. The parents I’ve met who want only to be the friend to their kids have done their kids no benefit. I’ve seen bullies, brats, kids being too quiet, kids socially awkward and kids who try desperately to run around the corner for their lives because their mom or dad are trying to be cool with their friends. That, by the way, never ends well.
You cannot parent and be in charge and be the authority figure while also being the friend to your kids. They cannot give you parental respect if you’re trying to hang out with them at the same time.
It’s harsh, I know. I am great friends with and have tons of fun with my kids. I love hanging out with them. I just spent the weekend with my oldest at college. But if I showed up every week to hang out and try to party with her friends do you think she’d like that? I don’t.
In the end trying to be your kids’ best friend ends up hurting your ability to be what they need: their parent. In the end, that’s far more. You are sometimes their parent, sometimes their guru, sometimes their friend, and sometimes their judge, jury and executioner. Sometimes you are all those things at once.
But in the end, if they succeed you know you’ve been what they needed: their parent.