My kid is not my "bestie"

Thursday, February 13, 2020

At least right now.

My children are 6, 4, and 1 -- we are in the turbulence of childhood that is a mixture of reinforcing the foundation my husband and I have laid down for our babies and trying to find common ground so they are strong enough to learn who they are. Our children, most times instinctively, look to us for guidance, support, understanding, love, stability, and all the wonderful elements that we as parents should be providing. Our children also need their parents for the not so fun things... consequences, structure (hello, bedtime), and responsibilities. Hearing their laughter, giggles, and fun is absolutely enough to turn a bad day into the best day, but it can't always be laughter, giggles, and fun. And we cannot be their friends. At least right now.

Think about the very definition of a friend. Someone you choose, someone that supports you -- but doesn't have to. Someone that you learn to trust, someone that may be like-minded, or completely different that you are still able to forge a bond with. A friend is a choice but you can also walk away from friendships, especially when things get complicated. Friendships aren't for one friend dictating another friend's life, so to speak. Friendships aren't for dishing out consequences for the other. Friendships are balanced (at least they should be)... and with that said, I'll say again, my kids are not my friends.

We live in a culture that has normalized the idea of turning to your toddler and calling them a "bestie" but really, what message does that send? If a friend demands you to take a nap or tries to discipline you when you've done something wrong, you aren't going to feel like you need to listen to them, are you? No. Because the dynamic isn't there. And yeah, some may argue that they can call their children this but parent them accordingly... isn't that confusing? Like, you call your 4 year old your bestie but then you give her a time out when she's not been using her listening ears? If being friends with my kiddos was enough to be able to raise them into the happy, healthy, successful humans I hope they will become someday, I'm sure i'd be all for it! I mean, wouldn't we all? It would be the best of both worlds -- theirs and ours to navigate parenthood without all the "extra" complications. But that's just it, parenthood is full of complex complications.

Sometimes we make choices our kids don't like that we KNOW they will benefit from, so we enforce it. As a friend, you do not have that authority. When you correlate friendship and parental into any idea for a child, you are going to be met with resistance. I am not raising my kids for a popularity contest. I do not wish to be a "cool" mom and I have no desire to give into the demands of tiny humans at the expense of wanting to be their bestie. I know Justin feels the exact same way and while we encourage big ideas like freedom of expression, being able to confide in us, and leaving an open dialogue for difficult concepts that the kids will likely encounter, there are still boundaries in place so that the kids know that we are their parents, always and that comes with an authority that cannot be compromised.

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