Think you can be friends with your kids and still be effective parents? While that may work for some, the truth is many of our kids need us to be moms and dads more than they need another pal. Read on to see why I am not my son’s friend.
My days are probably just like any other stay at home mom’s: an entire day full of playing Lego; making Christmas art projects (which never look anything like the Pinterest version, I have to say); building forts; playing with the dog in the backyard; etc., etc., etc. Obviously at some point during the fun, I have to make time to get meals prepared, the dog walked, the house cleaned, and so on. My days are no more routine or special than any other mom’s, at least I don’t think they are! Our days are basically fun-filled from sunup to sundown, and while I love to play with my son, make no mistake about it: although I am my son’s best playmate, I am not his friend.
Why Our Kids Need Parents, Not Pals
The first two years or so of my sons life were a very special time. I wish I’d realized then just how special of a time it was… because you see, my son (who we’ll call M from here on out) did not talk back to me or disagree with pretty much everything I said. Even though he was just on the cusp of the Terrible Twos, I’ll be honest and tell you that M absolutely adored me. He revered me!!!!
Now that M is a four-year-old who is going to start school next September, he needs to understand the concept of a hierarchy…. Mommy and Daddy are at the top the pyramid in this house, and M is not our equal. I know that might sound harsh to some of you, but it’s a system that was necessary to enforce in our household. If we hadn’t enforced it, our son would have been walking all over us for the past year or so. Or at least all over me, as I am the primary caregiver and I was starting to make him feel as though he was my equal. He needs to understand that there are people he needs to listen to and respond to: first and foremost, his father and I; and in the next few months, he’ll need to do the same with his teachers.
If he enters into what we always call “The Real World” thinking that he’s on par with everyone he comes across, he won’t understand the concept of boundaries, rules and respect.
My husband and I are not doing any of this to be mean, but rather to prepare M for the years that lie ahead of him. Have you ever come across an enabled child, who thinks that he’s the King Of The Castle, and that the world owes him something, because his parents say he can do no wrong? Or worse, an enabled adult who thinks the world owes him/her something? Well, so have I, and let’s be honest, these are not the kinds of behaviours that I find acceptable in my own child.
Obviously M is too young to understand it right now, but as a young boy, he needs structure, boundaries, limits and rules. My role as his parent is to help prepare him for the world, to mold him into a good, kind and generous person who works hard and respects others. I simply can’t be his friend and do all of that at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong, I will always make blanket forts; try to dance to the latest pop music on the radio; climb the jungle gym; and go skating with M. But there’s a difference between playmate and friend, and as M’s mom, it’s important that both he and I understand that difference now.