A parent can only hope that they will have a loving, trusting, close relationship with their child. We want our children to confide, trust and share with us their innermost thoughts, desires, and emotions. In other words, we want to be their best friends. But when establishing these types of relationships, we must be careful to what extent we enable our little ones to cross boundaries.
To be or not to be a BFF (best friend forever) – that is the question. Where do you draw the line? Is it possible to be the disciplinarian and still be the warm-body your child runs to discuss their secrets? Possibly. But eventually this relationship can become complicated and jeopardize the quality of your parenting if not balanced.
I can remember growing up my relationship with my mother and father was different because of their approach. My father was the disciplinarian and was not sympathetic to most situations. So as a result we knew not to go to him to ask for things because the answer would probably be ‘NO!’
My mother, in her effort to build close relationships with us, tried to keep the channels open for us to joke, confide, and do most things with her as we would do with our friends. This is a double-edged sword. We found ourselves scared to tell her very few things and could almost always get more sympathy and permission from her. However, as we grew older the lines between mother and daughter, and friend blurred. We took advantage of her leniency knowing a punishment would be unlikely. If she were to punish us, we knew how to manipulate and tug at her heart strings to reduce or eliminate the sentence.
Our open lines of communication lead to us not taking her role seriously and we began to disrespect her slowly but surely. Our sarcasm, quick tongues, roll of the eyes, cold shoulders, subliminal jokes and disregard for basic rules became habitual. After long, we could notice the effect of taking our “friendship” with her to an unnecessary level. She then had to switch her approach and started being stringent and disciplined us to remind us that she was still the parent. In-turn, this led to confusion and sometimes resentment.
On the other hand, our father was unapproachable and we didn’t develop close bonds with him because he knew so very little about us and vice versa. They were polar opposites, two extremes on different ends of the spectrum.
These type of relationships are common to me. Reality TV shows, dramedies, and sitcoms expose this type of parenting issue. While they may be comedic or amusing to watch, real-life circumstances with children over-stepping their boundaries due to this can be a struggle. It is important to be able to balance and allow certain behaviors in moderation. Rules must be enforced upfront and on a consistent basis. Both parents (if in a two-parent home) must collaborate to establish a middle ground in roles and ideals for parenting their children.
It is extremely important to reassure yourself that just because you are unwavering and stern does not make you rigid and “uncool.” Remember to be encouraged and know that tight-knit relationships aren’t contingent upon how at ease you make your child feel, but rather built based on the experiences they endure and learn from along the way.