First off, let me just say that I am no parenting expert. If anyone says that they are you should probably put your fingers in your ears and sing loudly when they talk. I mean, with parenting it seems to me that it’s all one big experiment. You kind of do your best and cross your fingers and see what happens. Seriously, I am the mom that found 2 of her kids naked and pooping in the yard when they were 3 and 4 (we did not live in the countryside). Yeah, so at this point you can either laugh/relate and keep reading or roll your eyes and pretend you never saw this.
This little post is in response to many articles I have seen lately floating around the internet suggesting that we should not be our kid’s friend. Every time I see this it bothers me. I couldn’t figure out why, but today as I was mopping (because occasionally I actually do that) I think I got a grasp on it.
I am friends with my kids. I love being with them and we have a great relationship. I have never been a super authoritative parent. I am of the belief that I should speak to my children with respect as I would like for them to speak to others. I don’t treat them like minions I treat them more as equals. I still ask them to do things and they comply happily 90% of the time.
I think my issue with this whole “you can’t be friends with your kids” is more about our concept of friendship than about parenting. I think we have become friends who don’t tell each other the hard things and don’t want to hear other people tell us those things. I am lucky enough to live in an amazing community of friends. We love each other well. We laugh together and cry together and sometimes we sit down with each other and give our friend a proverbial slap across the face and say ‘this area of your life is getting way out of whack, what is going on?’ or maybe we hug them and say ‘something seems off, you’re not yourself. How can we help?’ In my observation and experience outside of my community we just want to be encouragers and say only nice things about each other. But, blind spots are, well, hard to see. If you truly love someone you will want to help them grow as a person. You don’t want to see them sitting in the same pile of dog poo for the rest of their lives, you want to help them get out and move forward. And since you also don’t want to sit on that pile for the rest of your life so you have to learn to receive hard truths from those that love you. Yes, of course we should be our friends’ biggest cheerleaders and encouragers, but to love each other well we have to move into a deeper kind of love.
I make dumb mistakes a lot. It happens. I am learning and so are my kids. Hopefully, all of us are learning and growing. I am so grateful for my friends who have and do pull me aside and tell me when I have areas that need some work. So I will continue to be friends with my kids (and also cross my fingers and hope for the best).