Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Parent: Friend or Foe?

Author: Jannette Matula, Former Support Line Volunteer

Which do you consider yourself? Maybe you think you are both? Maybe neither?

Some parents think it is best to be friends with our children. I think it might be nice if, when my kids are adults, they enjoyed spending time with me. Even better, if they called me their "friend"! When we do nice things for our kids, or give them things they want, or behave in ways they like, we may feel like their friend. But it's not really the same.

Sometimes we certainly feel like a foe: enforcing rules, saying no to the "MA" rated video game that "all my friends are playing," ensuring homework is done before the TV comes on. I've been told a few times by my angry child: "You are NOT my friend!" And I fully expect to hear "I hate you!" uttered or screamed at me in the not-so-distant future. (Take a deep breathe…count to 10…)

These words sting, no doubt. But I find a little peace in acknowledging that I am neither friend nor foe. I am something different. My job is perhaps the most difficult and important job I will ever aspire to be perfect at, although try as I might, sometimes I will still fail. I am a parent. I show unconditional love to my children by providing structure and setting good examples for how I would like to see them treat themselves and others (most of the time). I do what is reasonably in my power to keep them out of harm's way. I say no when it would be easier to say yes...again, most of the time. I am not perfect, but I try my best with the knowledge and tools that I have.

During those times when your child is angrily yelling "You are not my friend!" hopefully you can pause, take a deep breathe, and agree with them. Then, with calm and love in your voice, you can gently say that no, you are not their friend...you are their parent.

For more great parenting tips, parenting resources, suggestions or support call the Families First Support Line at 1-877-695-7996 OR 1-866-527-3264 for Spanish-speaking parents. You can also e-mail SupportLine@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.