Parents kids best friends? Nah…Still if you think that by styling yourself as your kids best friend, you are following the best parenting approach, and then think again coz instead of bringing him/her any good, you might make your child lame in the process.
In time I grew up, my parents were parents to me and for them also their kids were kids, not buddies, as many parents think nowadays. Between then and now, the times have surely changed!
We, a motley group of millennials were chi-chatting during a get-together at one of the friends place and the generation z was playing in another room. In –between the grown-ups gossip I got up and ventured into the kids territory with plateful of snacks for them. There I saw my 12 year old watching some music video on another 14 year old girl’s mobile. I told my daughter, in a firm tone to stop gazing at the gadget as she has weak eyesight and I didn’t want to ruin it further. Moreover, I thought it’s better that kids should play among themselves rather than spend time in front of a screen. My daughter said Ok and asked the other girl to play a board-game to which she agreed.
On our way home, my daughter said “mamma, you know Rhea was saying your mom seemed strict,” and further added that according to Rhea, her parents are “cool”, as they never forbid her from doing anything and would never order what she should or should not do.” The statement left me pondering.
Now when kids say their parents are “cool”, in simple lingo it implies that their parents are like friends to them who don’t impose any rule, regulation and boundary on their kids. The “cool” parents of such kids too think it’s the “in” thing to consider their kids, sometimes as young as 6-7 , as their equals and are never to be told what to do or how to behave. Such parents can be seen high-fiving their small kids on the playground, hanging out or having heart to heart talk with their older kids and declaring every now and then that they are their kids best friend. Best friends? Seriously? Because last time I checked one is supposed to “make” friends and not something which we get “readymade” in form of the parents.
Parents and a friends are two separate entities and confusing the first for the other can be disastrous, more for a child than a parent.
Parents to a son, my cousin and her husband chose a less formal, more relaxed type of parenting approach wherein, they treat the son as their “friend”. All three always looked happily satisfied in each other’s company; the parents treating him as a “buddy” and the offspring too treating parents as his best friends. So naturally all his whims and fancies were always pandered to right from childhood. The other day my cousin called me up, sounding very disturbed. She told her son is not able to adjust with his hostel room-mates and asking his parents to talk to the principal of college requesting him to allot the son a separate room. I listened to her patiently but in back of my mind was thinking how their son had always been a reclusive boy since childhood. When it was the age to make friends, he was busy playing video games with his dad or was enjoying “hanging out “with his mother. As he had a very limited interaction with kids of his age group since childhood, he must be finding it difficult to adjust with other kids. It’s a typical case where the role of a parent and a friend are blurred for a child since the beginning.
You see everything in nature has a definite part to play otherwise the repercussions could be serious. If the sun starts thinking that since people can’t bear my heat, I might as well take up the role of moon and provide just the coolness; it would be a disastrous situation. Similarly there would be confusion and chaos in a kid’s life if the parents don’t play their role sincerely. The kids won’t be able to separate right from wrong if there is no authoritative voice in the home, they won’t understand the difference between correct and incorrect choices if there is no guiding voice in the home, they won’t learn various life skills if there is no teaching voice at home, and above all if there is no comforting voice in the house the kids be won’t be assured of a sense of security which only parents can provide.
Let’s try to understand about the definite role of a parent and friends by taking us adults as examples. For a moment just think, can you do the same things with your parents, the things you do with friends? No, isn’t it? Or can you have the same equation with your friends, the equation you have with your parents. Again no, isn’t it? When the position of two in your life is not interchangeable, then why do you, as a parent, try to cross the border and jump into the “friendly zone” with your kids. You do that because you try to “fit-in”; you fear that you might become old-fashioned or irrelevant in front of your kids or their friends, if you don’t behave like a “cool” parent. But trust me it’s a baseless fear which parents have to remove from their mind. Try asking any adult child; even he would say that he wants his parents to act like one and not his “buddy”.
I am raising two girls and elder one is almost a teenager. I have a beautiful relationship with them, but we are not BFF to each other. They have their own friends and I have mine. My job right now is to provide them with love, comfort, food and give them with worldly- wisdom which obviously can’t be expected out of their friends. Yes we have moments when we indulge in fun activities and enjoy our talks; in spite of all this for them I am their mother, period. Though I am sure as the years pass by, our relationship will grow, it could become friendly in nature, but the fact that I am their mother will always remain.
My mantra is very simple: My kids will have many friends but they will always have one set of parents and I will not trade my status as a “parent” with “friendship”, no matter what.