I’ve heard it a million times and I’ve seen it in a ton of parenting articles, but let me tell you why I AM my child’s best friend. This isn’t the first time I’ve bucked the current standards of parenting advice, and I am quite certain it will not be the last.
I read it everywhere, I hear it from my mom friends, I hear it on tv…explaining why moms should not try and be best friends with their children. That they are our kids and they should respect us and we should not care if they like us. That we are to be role models and care givers but certainly not buddies with our sons and daughters.
And I’ve given a LOT of thought to this line of thinking but am never able to actually agree with it. In fact, I DISAGREE with it wholeheartedly and it’s really based on two main principles.
The first one is that, maybe these people who espouse this theory of not being best friends with their kids don’t have good friends? It leaves me wondering if these parents should reevaluate just who they are keeping company with.
Because in my small group of friends, I have nothing but respect for these ladies. And I don’t tell them what to do, but they come to me for advice because they think I’m a good person, a good mom, someone who makes good decisions (and vice-versa).
And I want these ladies to like me…I really do. But I don’t change who I am or say words they want to hear just because I want to be liked. They like me because of what I believe and because I speak my opinion, even if it’s not what they want to hear.
In the middle of my most stressful times, I want to call these friends up and talk it out and get ideas and sometimes just be brought back to earth. And these are the women I can’t wait to talk to when something wonderful happens to me or my family. I want to share these moments with them BECAUSE they are my friends.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that EXACTLY what we hope for from our kids? Isn’t that what the other half of parenting magazines focus on (aside from NOT being best friends with your kids)…getting your child to open up? supporting your child in the good and the bad? knowing what’s going on in your child’s life?
By being my child’s best friend, I create the environment that elicits those kind of responses. My girls will WANT to tell me the good, bad and ugly BECAUSE I am their friend AND I am their mom.
And the 2nd reason I can’t agree with the parenting big wigs out there who tell me not to be best friends with my girls??
Well, let me just use the exact words my OWN MOM shared with me…
“Hillary, in this mean ol’ world, it is important for a child to know they can come home at the end of the day and know, know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their best friend is waiting for them. And that they will be loved and that they are not alone.”
Pretty good huh? Yeah, sure you may say a Mom or Dad should always be showing them that they are loved and not alone…but think about the level of comfort you feel when you are in the company of your best friend? It’s different, isn’t it? It’s more relaxed, its comfortable, it’s inviting.
I want my girls to know they can share anything with me. They can tell me their biggest fears, their greatest dreams, their secret wishes. I want my girls to know that they can tell me anything and not be judged.
And hear me now – Being non-judgemental is the polar opposite of condoning. If at some future point, one of my girls at confesses she has lied to me about being at a friend’s house and instead went to a party, I don’t plan on high-fiving her and asking if she hooked up with a cute boy. Because I wouldn’t encourage deceitfulness or unsafe behavior in one of my best friends, regardless the age.
What I would do is commend her for telling me the truth, because that shows she respects me. We all make mistakes and have behavior we are ashamed of. I do it daily as an adult, so I can tell you with great confidence I did it a lot more in my youth.
What I would also do is talk about WHY she felt she needed to lie to me. And WHY I feel some places aren’t safe for her. And I will tell her that she can ALWAYS call me if she is in an uncomfortable situation and I will drive anywhere to pick her up without punishing her.
Because I love her and I want her to love and respect me. But I want it to come from a source of mutual respect – not instilled by fear.
And I will pray – I will pray that she listens to me, heeds my advice, and learns quickly that while many life lessons can be taught through experience, many painful ones can be avoided by simply learning from those who have already made those mistakes.
Because at the end of the day, whether you are trying to be your child’s best friend or not, we as parents have no guarantees of how our children will behave. We can teach them, we can guide them, and we can lead by example.
But much of what we will do is pray – pray that God watches over them. Pray that we have been good teachers. And pray that in the midst of celebration and crisis, our children will turn to us.
So I will continue to raise my girls and remind them and show them daily that I am and always will be their best friend. Just as my mom was and is mine now.
I will show them there is nothing they can’t tell me. Nothing they could do to make me every stop loving them.
And that like any good friend, if some distance comes between us…be it the throes of the teenage years or graduation or whatever…that I will still be here.
Their best friend will always be at home waiting…
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