Best Friends in the end
Charlotte Parent|April 2020
You can be friends with your child…just not yet
By Randi Mazzella

When my oldest daughter was in pre-school, I attended a monthly parenting workshop run by the director of early education. Many women in the room were first-time mothers, too. One talked about the trouble she had disciplining her then 5-year-old. She couldn’t enforce a time-out because her daughter was her “best friend.”

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who thought, “Your daughter is not supposed to be your best friend.” I think even the mother who made the statement knew this wasn’t a healthy dynamic.

I also understood her sentiment. As Dr. Robin Goodman, a clinical psychologist who works with children and families, explains, “Many of today’s generation of parents grew up with authoritative parents and in turn, they want to be the opposite. They want to be seen as ‘cool, young, hip’ and be able to bond with their kids in a way that their own parent did not.”

But a parent’s role is not the same as a peer, and it’s crucial to make that distinction for a child’s protection and development.

A FRIEND VS. A PARENT

“The parent-child relationship can have mutual caring and transparency, but it is not friendship because it is not one of equals,” says Brent Sweitzer, a professional counselor in Georgia. As Goodman points out, your friends don’t tell you to take out the garbage or clean your room. “Parents need to set limits, be role models, and make rules,” she says. “It’s their responsibility to take care of them and keep them safe.”

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