Most parents would say they want their child to see them as their best friends, that they want their children to confide in them, seek their advice and trust them. What parent doesn’t want this? And yet, many will never experience this beautiful relationship with their children. So many factors come into play when a parent-child friendship is attempted or achieved: the personalities of both parties and how much time they spend together, the quality of time they spend together and so on.
It is possible to be friends with your children. And while it may not work out exactly like the way you imagine, chances are you will be surprised at how easy it is to have a close, loving relationship with your children…especially when they grow older and move from childhood to adulthood.
Being friends with your children doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and energy, but it’s worth it to build solid relationships with them. Adults and kids all need quality friendships, if only to have someone who can help you when you feel like you can’t ask anyone else for support. That’s what being an adult friend is about for parents, and it’s something worth devoting time and effort to.
But how do you make it happen? How do you take that first step and overcome the obstacles—when there are real challenges to simply accepting or embracing your role in your child’s life? I wish I had a simple answer. I wish I could give you a one-word, easy-to-comply-with plan on how to be friends with your child.
It’s not just possible, but it’s preferable. You don’t have to hover or intrude on their personal space, or force a friendship, either. This can become an organic relationship that is healthy for both you and them. With the many joys of parenting, why are we so obsessed with what they do and don’t do and how they do it? If we can let go of that need to control their every day, then we can allow our kids to have a more meaningful childhood.
The one thing I would say is, regardless of whether your child wants to be your friend or not (and some kids just don’t want that relationship with their parents), never stop trying.
We found that many parents and children are content with their relationship roles in the middle childhood and early adolescent years. But whether or not you have a close friendship with your child depends on the age of your child, the gender of the parent, and the parenting style of your family.
I hope that you have found that there are a lot of things we can do to be closer to our children, to understand them better, and to show them that we care – or even just want to try caring. It’s never too late to start.
Friendship is a wonderful thing. But you aren’t the only one who needs to work at it . . .
Of course, every child is different, and so every parent-child relationship will be different as well. There’s no right or wrong way to be a parent; any kind of relationship that you have with your child is okay as long as both of you are happy with it.
The flip side? A good friend is someone who respects your space and privacy. This doesn’t mean that you should never see each other, or that you never see each other with other friends. It just means that you don’t try and get into business (i.e. money, personal information, dating, etc.) between yourself and another friend. If you can manage to do this—and maintain a comfortable level of communication, even if it’s just texting occasionally—then yes, you can be friends with your children. But it takes open-mindedness on the part of everyone involved. And despite how wonderful it might seem on the surface, trust me when I dare say, be ready for those devastating times when the reality of dealing with your children as friends is much more complicated than the picture painted by all of those parenting articles out there.
Related Resources: Sex and Sexuality for Children of Different ages