It is usually said that when a son outgrows his father’s shoulders, he becomes his friend. Similarly, a daughter after a certain age becomes a friend to her mother. So, when we consider the topic, ‘can parents be friends with their children’, the answer is yes. Parents can be friends with their kids, but never ‘ideal’ friends or ‘confidantes’.
Parents should be more like guides, mentors whom children can look up to. They should never be like ‘partners in crime’ which normally most of our friends are.
I can still vouch for the fact that my mother is still my best friend- when I say this, it means that she has always been there for me during my growing years , she has been extremely supportive in my transitional phase from a teenager to an adolescent and then an adult. Like a true friend, she silently listened to my problems and helped me find solutions to each. She has always been patient in dealing with my tantrums. I have found her by my side like a real companion when I was going through troubled teens. Honestly speaking, I have also shared all my secrets with her because I found a true confidante in her.
Now, when we say that parents can be friends with their kids, they should also know where to draw the line in their friendship. A parent should never make their child a confidante because children are not emotionally and psychologically mature enough to shoulder such a responsibility. Even if I consider my mother to be my closest friend, I never try to encroach upon her privacy. She has always acted as my teacher, coach yet has tried to view any situation from my perspective. She has always stood in my shoes and then evaluated a person or a circumstance. But at the same time she has never allowed me to take her for granted or expect that she would be encouraging if I did something wrong.
Overall, I can say that she took immense care in raising me which resulted in a genuine and an everlasting friendship between us. And this friendship is of choice and not an obligation – this makes me ever grateful to her for moulding me into a responsible adult.
Thus it is important that parents should strike a wonderful bond with their children but at the same time they should not let them cross the line of conduct. Parents should never pour out their heart to their children. They should neither try to raise them in the way they wanted their parents to raise them.
Many parents from previous generations may not agree that parents should be their children’ friends. But with due respect to them, I being a new age parent, would say that just being a parent is no longer helpful for our children. We need to go down to their level, approach situations from their point of view and see the world through their eyes. So it is significant to befriend our kids, and not be an intimidating and unapproachable force. For instance, my friends always envied me for the bond I shared with my mother. Unfortunately most of my friends’ parents and guardians were strict disciplinarians or hard task masters.
It is important to discipline our kids but one must remember that punishment is not the only way to raise a child. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by act of love. Power based on love is more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.” I would proudly say that my mother was a firm believer in the above statement.
It is important to allow children to make mistakes and learn from them so that they don’t repeat the same. Parents should not be someone whom their children are scared to approach. If they help create a friendly and amicable environment at home, a great bond of love and companionship can be fostered. When we treat our kids as our friends and not as our “property” we gain respect. But to get respect we must give respect and love. We must never forget that the rules that apply to our kids, also apply to us too – we too have passed the same stage. Just the way it is irksome for us to have someone bossing around, giving orders or instilling fear, kids too feel the same.
So to summarize, I believe that if we treat our lovely young treasures with lots of love, compassion and respect, and if we are a little more tolerant of their abilities and their temporary “inabilities” due to their size and age, we would surely be on the road to a lifelong friendship with our children. And at the same time if we keep in mind, the future that we wish to take our children to, we would automatically have a compass that would prevent us from veering off course in this miraculously priceless journey one calls parenthood.
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