When raising children, there is a fine line between being a parent and being a friend. Sure both can be accomplished, but they each have their own place and rarely are they able to occur simultaneously.
Being a parent, for most, is a given. Providing food, clothing, shelter, and water. That is easy. A little more of a challenge comes when you make efforts to relate to your child(ren). This presents a challenge because parents being friends to and with their children just do not make sense. It clouds the thought pattern.
Usually, a child has a particular peer group and usually they share more similarities than differences. At the same time, usually, a child and a parent have more differences than similarities. It is a fine art to balance the two from a parental point of view but it is so very necessary for multiple reasons.
Being able to be a friend to your child requires stepping outside of the role of parent, if only for a very brief moment. There will come a time when your child will experience hurt or shame and though he/she has friends to spill their emotions to, who better to talk to about childhood hurt and shame than a parent??! Sure the friends are there and they have genuine concern for your child but the conflict comes when it is time to give advice. This is when being a friend to your child is most advantageous because, hopefully, you can offer much better advice than the friends can. Also, maybe you can share some similar hurts and shames from your own childhood allowing your child to view you in another light rather than parent. You now have gained trust; as a friend.
Which is the next, and most important, reason why being a friend to your child is crucial. Your child lives in a completely different world than you and no matter how much you may want to be involved in his/her world, if the invitation is not extended from the child then you will never get in. Sure, you make efforts to be an involved parent and you have had the talks and discussions that you think parents should have with children but that is you inviting your child into your world. It takes more than monitoring facebook and twitter accounts and randomly checking cell phones for inappropriate conversations. It takes having a genuine interest in your child and it takes that genuine interest being able to be recognized by your child. This recognition can only happen when you take off your parent hat and swap it out for your friend hat!
Again, this does not mean that you are not a good or effective parent. On the contrary, this makes you even better and more effective. To have the respect of your child as a parent and be able to gain the trust of your child as a friend is a feat that most only dream about. However, do not think it impossible. With a lot of effort and even more patience, you will soon bring this dream to reality. Sure, kids will be kids but parents being parents is what is needed. Except when it’s time to be a friend!