Mother & Daughter friends

Recently, I attended a parent counselling session. The counsellor asked all parents a question ‘Should you be your child’s friend’? A majority of parents, including me responded with a ‘yes’. After all, I wanted my teen daughter to consider me her friend so that we can comfortably talk about anything on our minds, especially the difficult and awkward conversations regarding her life.

Imagine my shock and confusion when the counsellor said that parent-child friendship could create confusion about roles and result in several relationship problems at some stage. Later, I dug deeper into this subject and found the following reasons you shouldn’t be your child’s friend:

Parents are Authority Figures

Friendship is usually a relationship of equals. Parents have the authority over their children. You can command or discipline their children as and when required to protect them. When there is a situation when you exercise authority, the child may refuse to obey and it would complicate the matters. It blurs the relationship boundaries when needed the most.

Children May Feel Embarrassment

Children expect their friends to be their close confidantes and be in tune with each other. There are certain unspoken rules of friendship. When you act as your children’s friends, you may unintentionally spill their secrets to their friends or your family. Your children will feel ashamed and they are not likely to trust you again.

Children May Not Like the ‘Cool Parent’ Image

When you become your child’s friend, you try hard to present a cool image. You talk in their lingo, hang out with their friends, etc. However, your children may find it weird even though they may not say as much in words. Moreover, they may start feeling that you are cool with whatever they do and they might end up taking advantage of it.

Children are Not Your Emotional Outlet

When you think your child is your friend, you may start venting out your feelings to them. You may discuss your adult life problems which children shouldn’t be exposed to as it may result in childhood trauma. Your emotional burden is only yours to bear, not your children’s.

Is There a Way to Find a Balance?

Yes. You can be friendly to your children without tagging your relationship with them as a ‘friend’. You can do so by spending quality time with them, doing some fun together, going on family outings or just doing some playful things.

Let your children know that you always have their back and they can come to you when they need an empathetic ear, support or advice.

About Sneha Malhotra

Sneha is a mother of a teen son, and formerly an HR consultant, who is currently considering getting to the back to the workforce. She occasionally writes on HR topics and also on parenting issues - she also hopes to have her own blog soon!


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