Wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, Never be friends with your child. The thinking behind this, I presume, is that children need a parent’s authority; they do not need to be a confidante. True enough. However, does the separation of friend and parent give permission to treat children differently from how we treat friends?
Imagine saying to your friends:
“Mona, don’t eat so many appetizers or you’ll spoil your dinner. I worked hard on this meal. Don’t fill up on cheese and crackers. Fred, pick up your napkin. Where were you born, in a barn? Mona, did you hear me? Why don’t you ever listen to me? Stop reaching, Fred. Honestly, you make me so mad. Ok, that’s it. Hand over that iPhone until after dinner.”
On the contrary, it would behoove us to treat our children much more like dear friends—with respect, consideration, support, and care. We cherish our friends and put effort into maintaining trusting, connected relationships in which we listen to each other, have empathy for one another but also have good boundaries that prevent us from asking our friends to take on our responsibilities.