A Parent or a Friend – What will take you closer to your Parenting Goals?
In my interactions with fellow parents and my clients, i have often come across parents who are very strict and believe in discipline as the foundational pillar of Parenting. They focus on creating rules, rewarding the compliance and punishing the deviations. They believe in taming or coaching their kids so as to present the best version of their kids to the outside world. Traditionally if we see, disciplining strategies have been around and utilised by parents & teachers for ages. Parents as we know it, are the ultimate authority figures who would have decision making powers, judgement powers and complete responsibility of rearing up well behaved and complying children.
And then, i have worked with parents who are more informed and well-read about the changing world and have adopted well to the paradigm of parents being friends first to their children and parents later. They work as buddies and aim at becoming close confidantes to their kids. Saying a yes even if it makes them uncomfortable, ignoring small misbehaviours by kids and being linient about the boundaries set for the kids are common modus operandi of this category of parents.
And hence i come across this question often “A Parent first or a friend first – What is the best way?”
I often tell this to my fellow parents that Parenting is an arena in which the way you operate and behave is largely a reflection of your own growing-up experiences. The way you have been brought up affects & shapes your default parenting style unless you intervene in the default and intentioanlly design it the other way. The impressions & recordings of your own childhood impact the way you are parenting today and naturally so. Therefore choice to be a Parent first or a friend first is obviously your very own. However i am presenting a perspective that would make you think about your own choice as a parent and (who knows) may even change your opinion about the subject.
Being your child’s friend means listening to hi non judgemental way, accepting him for who he is and still loving and supporting him. It also means sharing a good laugh and doing silly things together.
Being a parent involves donning many hats & performing many roles which includes but not limited to fulfilling the child’s emotioanl needs to love, belongingness, safety, respect, significace etc and doing functional things that are the core responsibilities of parenting like feeding good food, ensuring the safety and well being of your child at all times.
But does this in any way mean you can’t come in the shoes of a friend when the need be?
In probability terms, being a Parent and being a Friend are not mutually exclusive events!!
It is natural to want and wish that your child likes and loves you. But does that really mean that you must give in to everything the child says or asks for? Does it really mean that you let him grow up as he wants to without set any age-appropriate limits? Certainly not! Parents need to understand – and it has been proven umpteen times through various researches that –
- Children tend to grow up as responsible adults when parents have shown affection but at the same time enforced appropriate limits and disciplined them consistently.
- When parents go all out to behave as friends with their kids, they are curbing the child from developing self-control and encouraging him to think that he can take decisions even in matters that need adult interference.
The ideal parenting scenario calls for a beautiful blend of both. You can share certain things, laugh together and spend meaningful time with each other. All this needs to be done within certain pre-defined authoritative parameters. On the other hand, you should refrain from being an authoritarian parent because that will eventually push the kid away from you. Parenting is a tight rope walk and you need to find the right balance between being a friend and a parent, as and when the situation demands. Remember, you are parent first while you and your child can share, respect and trust each other without being in an egalitarian friendship.
I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.