Thursday, May 3, 2012

I don't want to be your friend.

I've observed that many parents would like to be their child(ren)'s best friend. Sometimes I hear parents saying jokingly to their kids, "I don't friend you already" when the kids don't do what they were told. My advice is, DON'T, don't try to be their friend.

Why? You may ask. The reason is simply because Obedience and Friendship don't come together. As parents, we need the respect and authority for the child to listen and obey in times of important decision making especially during the first 12 years when the child may be unable to make wise judgement and decisions. They will never take us seriously if the consequence of their mis-doing is "I don't friend you". And friends don't discipline. They find other friends if you no longer get along.

I think the best friend parents ideology came about especially for my generation due to our upbringing. When we were young, there's only 1 parenting method and that's the Authoritative Method. You probably will get one slap on the face if you dare to talk back to your parents. There was no choice offered to us in terms of the food we want to eat and we must always clean our plate. We just have to do what we are being told to do. If we don't, we may get the "you'll know it when you get home" threat. There's not much conversation between our parents and us. If we have problems, we will solve it ourselves because we are going to be in deep shit if our parents get to know about it. I'm lucky my upbringing was not this way but my husband was brought up with the "spare the rod, spoil the child" mentality.

It's from the Authoritative Parenting Methods from our parents that we longed for a "friend" figure in our parents. We wished we could talk to them like how we can talk to our friends. We hoped for that understanding from our parents. From there, we sworn not to be like our parents and to be the best parents when we become one, to be our child's best friend. But we didn't know the pitfall to be our child's best friend. Our child start treating us like a real friend, misbehave and disobey us with disrespect. We don't want to risk losing the friend and we don't know how to go about disciplining them. That's how we sink into the category of being permissive parents.

I don't want to be my child's best friend. I don't even want to be a friend. I want to be a parent whom he can rely on. He can come to me about his problems without the fear of being reprimanded. I want to be able to help him through his mistakes and guide him the right way. I want to respect him as a person. There are times when obedience is expected such as anything to do with safety but he is allowed to make allowable choices whenever possible. I'm not the almighty figure like our parents used to be, I don't have to be the know-it-all because I can't be and I am not. We are on a learning journey together, reminding each other of our mistakes.

We can choose our friends but we cannot choose our family. People change and friends come and go. Some friends are here to stay for life while most are just passerby. But no matter how family change, we stick together. This is the difference between friends and family. Friends can leave you but  family won't (under most circumstances). I want them to know the difference, that they have a dependable family where they can always come back to us for guidance or confide in us with their problems whenever they experienced setbacks in life, no matter how old they are in future. So, no, I don't want to be their friend. I want to be better than a friend.

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