I recently, read a post on Facebook by Kristie Liberti-Reinheld on Partnership parenting. One line stood out for me….“It is ok to be their (your children’s) friend and parent”.
When, I Googled “Be friends with your children“, it saddened me to see, there were more articles on why you shouldn’t be friends with your children, than there were on why you should, except from this lovely, humorous animation from “Free Quran Education” titled Be Friends with Your Children . Even though I am not a religious person, this short video was heart warming and I was glad it was there listed amongst the Naysayers. The Naysayers, seem to believe that if a parent desires to have a friendship with their child, they are actually wanting the child to be their confidant and therefore, will burden them with their adult problems while allowing the child to do whatever they wish without any guidance. They seem to have mistaken, having a friendship with our children as a form of Passive Parenting.
I am my children’s friend.
Being friends with my children is easy because I enjoy their company. I like who they are. I am interested in what my children are interested in, I enjoy talking with them about their passions and share mine too. We make each other laugh, sometimes we make each other cry, then there are apologies and hugs. I have left behind the old paradigm thinking of “YOU CHILD, ME PARENT“. I am aware, there is a culture in our society that dictates children are to be seen as a nuisance; children need to be entertained, kept busy so not to disturb or annoy their parents. Children are seen as an inconvenience.
My role as my children’s parent is not just a functional one, we have chosen to connect with each other, to listen to each other and make decisions that respect everyone’s needs as much as possible.
My husband and I are not passive parents. We understand, our children sometimes need us to guide them, be their mentors and sometimes, we have to say “No” to inappropriate behaviour that might harm themselves or others. But, here’s the thing…as our children have grown older (8 and 14 yrs old) we hardly ever have to say that “No” anymore. By treating our children with respect, and empowering them by being involved in decision making, they have become rather reasonable and responsible young people.
To be friends with our children is about being their ally in life, being someone they can trust, someone who sees them fully, rather than carrying beliefs around of who they “Should” be.