We live in an era where we are conscious of our children’s needs; long gone are the days of “children are to be seen and not heard.” We want our children to have a voice, we wish for them to be happy, and we desire to know them as individuals. As they age, we can be tempted to befriend our children; we love who they are becoming and the closeness we feel to them can bring us to the friendship line.
When we become friends with our children, we run the risk of:
- creating in them a confidante. Children are not equipped to handle our marital issues or family drama and are not meant to carry the weight of adult’s problems.
- creating in them a mediator. Children are not meant to carry messages back and forth to the other parent; it puts them in an awkward position of seeing their parents’ emotional reactions.
- creating in them a secret keeper. This creates turmoil, inner angst, and can create long lasting effects.
- moving towards pleasing our children instead of needing at times to say no. We may love our children and want to know them personally, but we are still their disciplinarians and their protectors – being a friend to our child automatically blurs those lines.
- creating a parentified child. When children feel that they are taking care of you, the power differential has shifted, placing too much responsibility on someone not mature enough to handle it.
Whether they are four or forty, we will forever be in the parental role with our children. They will come to us at various times in their life and just need us to be mom or dad. And we can love, support, and be close to our children as a parent – let your friends be your friends, and let your kids be your kids; they are forever roles.
Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@steveshreve