5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Your Kid’s Friend (Yet)

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Source: Family First

I admit it. I’ve slipped up and called my daughter by my sister’s name once or twice. My daughter may only be 12, but we’re almost the same height and some of my clothes fit her. My sister doesn’t even live in the same state, but I’m reminded of her because of the amount of time I spend with my daughter before and after school and all weekend long. When it’s just us two girls in the house, it almost feels like a sisterly friendship. But should it?
My daughter is a lot of fun to be around, but she’s not my equal. Even though there are times we feel like friends—when she confides in me or while we’re laughing at a funny movie together—it’s important to keep the parent-child relationship clear. I have to remind myself of these 5 reasons it’s important to protect those boundaries and be a parent, not a friend, at least for now.

1. To Give Her Security

When my friend’s daughter hit a parked car in the school lot recently, she came to her mom for help. The teen knew her mom would take care of her. But if you’ve been acting like friends, you might start to expect her to take care of you too and this wouldn’t be good for her. It’s the mom who gives her child the security she needs to feel safe in the world as she grows up, to make mistakes, and to learn from them.We’re always going to be there for our kids, so let’s make sure they know it by not blurring the boundaries. According to Barbara Harvey, a parenting expert in Atlanta, “Children want and need boundaries. … They depend on parents to set the parameters and keep them safe.” Our kids will gain more freedom as they grow, but even when they reach the teen years, we have to remind ourselves they’re still developing and learning.

2. To Ease His Stress

From mortgages to aging parents, we all have stressors. But we shouldn’t talk about these with our kids. As tempting as it may be to vent—“I don’t know how we’re going to pay all our bills this month!”—doing so will create more problems for the child.
Without boundaries and a sense of security, kids will feel stressed. We certainly don’t want our kids to be anxious, but when we cross the parent-friend line and treat our children like confidants, we’re not only giving them our stress, but also the stress of how to handle their parent’s problem. It’s too much for a young person who is not emotionally ready for problems coming from the adult world.

3. To Remove Any Pressure

If you unload on your kids about a problem at work (“I’m being pressured to socialize more with the staff in the evenings.”), they’re put in an awkward position. Suddenly, a child is asked to provide comfort and guidance to a parent when it’s usually the role of the parent to comfort and guide the child.When a child is a mom’s best friend, there’s too much pressure to know about and be involved in adult situations. “Children are not mentally or emotionally ready for this role,” Harvey said. Take the pressure off kids by keeping the parent-child line clear while they’re still living under your roof.

4. To Prevent Her From Growing Up Too Quickly

Without a sense of security coming from her mom and with the added stress and pressure of being her mom’s confidante, a child will be forced to grow up too fast. She won’t be actively involved in normal activities with her peers and instead will be forced to handle situations beyond her years.I want to be able to take my daughter shopping and to other fun activities, but I’m going to be careful to be a parent, not a friend to her—even if she looks and acts maturely.

5. To Teach What’s Best for Him—Even if He Doesn’t Like It

Just like a friend, we listen to our children and are supportive and fun. But if we want them to listen to us when we tell them they need to wear a jacket or that vaping is bad for them, they need to know it’s coming from your authority as their parent.When my daughter puts up a little too much stink about shutting off her light at night and putting her book away, I have to ask myself if I’ve been too chummy and if I’ve made it harder for her to follow the rules. Having fun with our kids and giving them love is essential, but keeping the boundaries clear is just as important.

Family First is a non-profit organization that provides parenting, marriage, and relationship resources through All Pro Dad, IMom and Family Minute programs, that help people love their family well, and gives them greater hope for the future. For more information visit www.familyfirst.net