In these ways I think parenting is all about being a good friend:
1) A friend listens. Absolutely. We want our kids to come to us with their joys and their sorrows. They will if we give them our full attention and always consider seriously what they are saying. I feel like a good parent when I do this.
2) Friends problem-solve. Again . . . yes! Who would we rather our children come to with a dilemma in their lives than ourselves? But consider, when you have a problem, what makes you comfortable bringing it to your friend? We bring up our problems to others if we know they won’t criticize us for how we got there, and also if we know that after they give us some ideas, they’ll let us make our own decision. I love seeing my kids grow in their self-confidence when I give them that autonomy.
3) Friends understand you. No one understands my kids better than myself. (Even when they don’t know it!) Because I’ve listened to them, when they come to me to problem solve, I can respect when they say, “I just can’t [insert hang-up here: walk into a room of strangers, talk to people wearing green, etc.,” and I can help them come up with alternatives. Friends help us find solutions even through our own particular hang-ups. Parents can do this, too!
4) Friends don’t keep quiet if their friend is about to do something dangerous or something they think will make them unhappy. A good friend tries to talk their friend out of it. They give reasons to their friend why they don’t think they should do it. They offer support in the better alternative. That’s a good friend and the kind of friend I want for my children. I want to be that kind of friend for them, too.
Remember that ad with the mom and daughter hanging out in the daughter’s room trying on clothes, having a good time, until suddenly mom finds a packet of marijuana and the daughter says something like, “Oh yeah, no big deal!” The mom slowly takes off the hat and the deep-announcer voice says, “KIDS NEED PARENTS, NOT A FRIEND.”
This is where I want to knock on the screen and say, “Um, Mr. Announcer-Guy, how does Mom find out about the drugs if she’s not friends with the daughter in the first place? She is in a perfect position to help her child make changes in her life! Just give her a minute to talk to her. That daughter couldn’t ask for a better friend.”
What do you think? Can a parent also be a friend?