When you have a child, you become a parent. This is for giving birth, adopting, hiring a surrogate, becoming a guardian. The minute you accept that responsibility is the moment you become a parent.
Friend. Well, that’s a whole other thing. When you hold your baby/child you say I’m going to be the best parent that I am capable of being. You do not say I’m going to be your best friend ever.
You should not be saying that.
Because parent and friend are two different things.
If you want a friend I am going to suggest joining a club….
Because a child needs a parent.
This is what parents do:
- Tell you what behaviors are wrong vs right (you know- stealing is bad)
- Teach you about respect, both of yourself and of others
- Teach you about sex and your body
- Explain to you the responsibilities that one must face as they get older
- Teach you about personal hygiene
- Show you that hard work and perseverance pay off
- Show you how special you are and how you will always love them
- Explain to them that even though you think they are the most special thing in the world, others might not think so, but you just have to deal with that
- Teach them that life isn’t fair, but we need to get up every day anyway
And there are other things, but you get the basic idea. A parent teaches you how to behave in this world, both as an individual and as a member of society.
Friends- sometimes they do this, but more often they do not. Friends don’t have to love you unconditionally. Friends don’t always help you make the right decisions (you know- peer pressure and all) Friends try to play nice. And sometimes friends are hurtful and mean.
Parenting is not about playing nice. Parenting is hard. It is really hard. Every time you make a tough parenting decision there is a little voice in the back of your head saying “Is this right?” because there is no definitive right or wrong. You have to go mainly on instinct.
Now I know there are some of you saying: But you need to remember what being a kid is like. Sometimes your kid needs a friend.
Yeah yeah yeah.
Let’s get something straight: you are allowed to have empathy. Of course we all remember how horrible it can be to be young. There is a lot of pressure when you are a child, tween or teen. But that doesn’t mean you give your kid carte blanche to do something just because you remember what it felt like to not fit in (cause for the record- there is almost no child that feels like they fit in 100% of the time). Do you really want to say- “Ok- you can juul, because all your friends are doing it and I guess it’s better than actual smoking cause it comes in bubblegum flavor.” Seriously? Because the person that makes that statement is a friend, not a parent. The parent that say’s that statement is saying that fitting in is more important than your health, your self respect and that bowing to peer pressure is fine. Are those the life lessons that you want your kid carrying forward? That nothing matters as long as you fit in? Multiply that towards nude photos sent to people, drugs, shoplifting…..Think about all the things that kids will do to fit in. Then tell me if you want a parent or a friend talking to them about that.
This being said- this does not mean you can’t be friendly with your child. My daughter and I are going to the New-York Historical Society today to see the Harry Potter exhibit (mid term week and the teachers gave the seniors their midterms last week in a show of- OK you deserve a few days off) I’m sure we are going to have a lovely time. We will talk and laugh and have fun. We will mainly respect one another (OK- it’s still two strong minded people who have a tendency to
argue debate.) But there is no more moment when I will not be her Mother and she will not be the Daughter. I will shield her it danger is imminent. I will try to model appropriate adult behavior. I will try to throw in a lesson as well. I will make a mistake at something and I’ll get over it. I will squeeze her hand and kiss the top of her head.
I will be her parent.