Stop trying to be your kids friend. Just stop right now.
It’s the popular thing right these days, doing whatever it takes to be their friend rather than their parent, and it’s hurting the kids.
Look, here’s the deal, you have a job as a parent, a damn important job.
Your job is to protect, provide, and most importantly teach your child how to be an adult. How to not just live in this world, but to thrive in this world.
That’s it, that’s the job. The job is NOT to be their friend.
They Don’t Need You As A Friend.
Frankly, they don’t need you as a friend; they need peers to be their friends, NOT mom or dad.
Look don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a friendship with your child. This is especially true as they grow older, eventually becoming young adults, but at the end of the day, they need someone to love them, protect them and teach them. Not ‘friend’ them.
Your ability to teach them about this freaky hard world we live in will be drastically diminished if you’re worried about how they are going to react to your instruction. If you are worried they won’t like you if you discipline them, if you give them the news they need to hear, but don’t want to hear.
If you, “gasp”; tell them “no”.
They are going to struggle their whole life. It’s part of being human!
You know that from your own experience. Of course, you want the best for them, you want them to struggle less than you did, the least possible, that’s natural as their parent, but be careful here.
From the moment they are born, your role is to prepare them to be on their own.
You need to help them learn the lessons they need to learn before they are actually “in the real world.” This is no small task, nor will it be easy, NOR will you have an instruction manual of just how to do it.
Partly because every kid is different.
Partly because every parent is different.
There is just no “exact right way” to do this crazy child-rearing thing.
But “do it” all parents must.
If we don’t who will?
Do you want to leave that up to the school teachers and friends? Do you really want them to learn the hard lessons of life from these people? I’m not saying they won’t learn a lot of wonderful things from their teachers at school. At the end of the day, you and I both know that having a happy life full of peace and joy is elusive at best, and impossible for many.
Regardless of all that, at the end of the day, they don’t need your friendship, they need your “parentship.”
Keep it straight.
It’s Hard Being The Parent They Need.
You need to prepare them. You need to help them “learn” what you have learned. It’s your responsibility and it’s hard, VERY hard.
It might be one of the most difficult jobs you ever have. One filled with tears of sadness and tears of joy. It’s a long road, a marathon, NOT a sprint.
It takes work, and the work comes when you want it the least. Right from the day you bring them home from the hospital.
They start off strong, disrupting every single bit of sanity in your life, you can’t even sleep well when that kid hits the scene the first time.
It’s that “hardness” it’s a pain, it’s the work that provides context to the love. It’ provides meaning to the investment. I often find myself saying that anything worth doing will be hard. Day after day, year after year, that statement is proven true to me.
Honestly yea, I wish it wasn’t true, but it just is. Things that are easy are rarely worth all that much in the long run. It’s true in business, it’s true in investment, in fitness, and you know what, it’s true in parenting.
You know what though, it’s a “good” kinda “hard.” It’s the kind of hard that matters, the kind that’s worth it.
In some ways that makes it easier. I mean, it’s not really any easier, but the truth of why you’re doing what you’re doing makes it “feel” easier, and it certainly makes it worthwhile. It’s a good struggle. It’s a struggle that hopefully if everything goes right, you and your child will both look back on fondly years later. It’s the investment that no matter what you will never regret. You’ll never get buyers remorse, and the payback will always be worth the investment.
Train Em Till You Like Em.
Gregg Harris, a friend of mine, has often said with regards to parenting. “Train them until you like them.”
The heart of that message is so darn good.
Kids are humans. Just like most humans, they come default as selfish little piglets. Thinking only of themselves demanding to eat and poop all hours of the day and night. Yep, that’s what you get when you start. YOUR job is to turn that selfish hungry pooping baby, into a respectable, likable, responsible, contributing member of society.
No small task bucko.
So you get to work training them. Teaching them, Working with them until they are all they can be. For sure, especially as they grow older a big part of the responsibility falls on them, ultimately the person they become they decide to become, but it’s your job too.
It’s NOT Your Job To Make Them Happy.
This is a downright shocker to many parents.
Your job is NOT to make them happy!
Sure, you want them to be happy, you work to create situations where they can be happy, but your job is not to make them happy.
It’s just not. I wish that parents today could just learn that. When your 6 year old wants to eat candy all day, and if you gave them the candy they would be happy, your job is to tell them NO, you can’t have the candy. It’s not good for you. Are they gonna be happy with your decision? Uh, no, they are gonna be pissed, dude, they want the candy.
When your 14 year old wants to play call of duty for 20 hours straight every day, skip school and homework. Your job is to tell them NO. Are they gonna be happy with your decision? Uh, no, again, they are gonna be pissed, dude they want to play the video games.
This one might shock you, but I actually know someone where their 16 year old high school student wants to spend the night with her boyfriend because they love each other, your job is to tell her NO, you’re not spending the night with your boyfriend. Is she gonna be happy with your decision. Uh, no again, she is gonna be pissed.
Look, your job kinda sucks a lot of the time. I hope you’re getting that by now, but you can’t give in. No to the candy, No to the xbox, No to the overnighters.
See the thing is that you “should” have the wisdom to help them learn how to make those decisions when they are too ignorant and unwise to make them on their own.
Sadly so many parents say yes to the candy, xbox, overnighters, and whatever else the “thing” might be.
You Spend Eighteen Years Stepping Back.
It’s a challenge, not holding on too tight as well. Many parents make that mistake too. Rather than be too lenient, they are too strict. The suffocate their children’s ability to learn and make their own mistakes make their own decisions.
How will they learn with no consequences. How will they learn decision making skills without making decisions.
See, it’s a very delicate balance. It’s a process that takes almost 20 years. The first day they come home YOU make all the decisions, the baby makes none. They have no ability to eat, cry, sleep and poop.
It doesn’t stay that way.
Starting with that day, and ending on the day they finally leave the nest you begin to step back. You give them more and more rope. NOT enough for them to hang themselves, you stop just short of that. You DO give them enough to learn. Which means giving them enough to make mistakes, to struggle, to get hurt a bit.
The goal is to arrive at 17, 18, 19 age rage where they are pretty much on their own. They are making their own decisions, they are living their own life, discovering what the believe, discovering who they are, but they have arrived there safely, with good skills, wisdom beyond their peers, and a solid foundation to begin their “own” life on.
Will this be hard, uh, yea, you bet your butt it will be hard, but consider the alternative.
If you make all their choices if you “protect” them from getting hurt, from choosing something incorrectly, from falling down, then learning how to get back up. How will they respond to the utter freedom when they DO get on their own.
In a word “Rebellion.”
Parents with the best intentions have created some of the drunkest, wildest, sexually promiscuous, drug using, lazy 19-year-olds out there.
They didn’t teach them how to learn, how to make decisions, how to discern right from wrong, good from bad. They TOLD them through a sort of family dictatorship, “The RULES.”
Do not make this mistake. Give them some rope, just enough to stumble a bit.
There is Hope In The End.
While there is no guarantee, there IS hope. You kids are free to decide to be the person they decide to be. There is actually no way to stop it, it’s part of life, regardless of how tight many parents try to grip.
Playing the teaching role, the coaching role, the PARENT role may not guarantee, but it’s your best shot at raising a kid that becomes an adult that becomes your friend. Respect them for who they are, help them learn how to learn. Help them learn to be who “THEY” want to be not who “YOU” want them to be and you’re on the road to raising a good friend.
A friend that will contribute to society, that will have a life full of joy, and might even raise some grandkids to do the same.
Good luck, and no matter what, don’t try to be your kids friend. Just be their mom or dad, it’s not what they are asking for, it’s what they need.