Why I Shouldn’t Be Friends With My Daughter (Not Too Much!)

In Geometry, lines are important.  They serve a purpose in marking boundaries, setting limits.  The same holds true in life.  Lines have to be drawn in order to delineate one’s space and borders.  When those lines are crossed one way or another, conflict arises.

A lot of parents aim to be “cool”.  They want their kids to like them, because they want their kids to open up to them about things.  So they do everything they can- notwithstanding rules- to be friends with them.  But what does this mean?  Does this mean letting them go on Facebook unsupervised, or making their curfew hours flexible?

I’m not one to rule with an iron hand, but I believe that we parents should be that to our kids: parents.  That’s why we were put in this position.  Our kids have their sets of friends, but there will only be one set of parents for him.  If we don’t fulfill our duties as guardians to them, who else will?  There’s an unwritten contract that it is our obligation to nurture them, and guide them.

That doesn’t mean that we should totally scrap “having fun with the kids” from our to-do list.  The key is in striking a balance between chilling with them and commanding respect.   Is it at all possible?  It may be a struggle, yes, but it is possible.  So, how can you not be a dictator and neither a too-cool mom or dad?

In order to foster a certain degree of friendship while still keeping within the bounds of respect, we parents should initially let our kids know what type of respect we want from them.  In a loving yet firm way, we can lay down the rules when it comes to their curfew, for example.

Once your kid is aware of the rules you’ve set, you can then try to be involved in his or her life, without over-imposing.  Make it a habit to ask him about how his school day went, ask him about his friends.  Take a keen and sincere interest in his hobbies and the people he hangs out with.  Spend time watching his favorite TV show with him and talk about it.

Don’t try too hard to be your kid’s friend.  Smothering invites disrespect.  Just give your kid a steady supply of warm love, and he’ll reciprocate while still upholding respect for you.

About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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  1. Very well said. We can’t just give them all they want or make them do as they please because true enough we are our kid’s parents the one responsible to nurture their whole being. I just wish there’s a parenting handbook somewhere.

  2. I completely agree with you!! I do not think our kids want us to be friends with them either….they want a mom!

  3. Being a parent and being a friend are not mutually exclusive, but yes, looking after our kids and their safety should over-rule friendship when it comes to that.

  4. Oh I just love this! You are 100% right on it girly! Kids need parents to be parents!

  5. This is awesome advice, and I coudn’t agree more!

  6. I agree. I have no intentions of being “just friends” with my son. I’m friendly with him, but I’m still his mother. And that’s that. He needs the structure and boundaries in his life anyway.

  7. I can’t say better than this. You’ve said it all..
    Thanks for sharing this.. and I hope you have a wonderful day..
    I appreciate the visit..

  8. Love that last sentence – so true!

  9. Perfectly said! I won’t let my daughter have FB… she’s old enough (14) but she doesn’t need another distraction in her life. I think it’s important also to “mean what you say, say what you mean.” That was a motto I carried with me through out my kids lives. That way they knew I would follow through and take my words seriously. Nice post !

    • That’s a good motto to practice…”mean what you say, and say what you mean”. Thanks for bringing that to light :)

      Oh, about FB, I don’t think I will ever let my daughter have an account. Yes, it’s an added distraction.

  10. Hi pepper yes I agree that trying too hard o be yr child’s friend rather than being their parent, the one responsible for helping them grow into healthy adults, is a better approach. I’ve been told by a sagely counsellor that as a parent you have to be prepared to be disliked by yr child to set up strong boundaries for them ie when u make decisions that they don’t like but you know it’s in their best interest. As a friend, the boundaries become too slippery and I think that can lead to trouble, especially in the teens (the horror years). X

    • Oh my, I’m dreading those horrific teen years…
      That’s right, we should be ready to be despised by our kids for the decisions we make- which in the long run turn out to be for their own good.

  11. Carla Barilá Karam says

    Pepper… fabulous post! Some parents think that being friends they will be liked and respected… this couldn’t be any farther from the truth. I have seen that with boundaries, rules etc respect is built and in later years the friendship develops. Thank you for sharing! Peace, grace and blessings!

  12. Well Written – great thoughts on parent-child relationships. Appreciate the honest approach to what it truly means to be the Parent! Thanks for sharing

    • It’s all too tempting to be their “friend”, isn’t it? But we should be the Parent before anything else.

  13. AMEN!!! That is so true! I knew people that were “best friends” with their parents, but they didn’t have any guidelines growing up, no responsibilities because the parents didn’t want to risk losing their “friendship” with their children. The kids grew up to be disrespectful, and unwilling to be hard workers because they didn’t have any direction as kids. They didn’t have guidance on how to contribute to society because their parents were too concerned about being their friend than their parent who was suppose to raise them.

    I want to be my kid’s friend, I want them to be able to come talk to me about anything, but that has more to do with keeping lines of communication open more than anything else. The best way I can be their friend is to be their parent first and be sure they are learning what they need to grow up to be respectful and productive members of society. As long as I do that with love and open communication, the friendship should fall into place.

    • You’re right, friendship- the real kind- between you and your kid will fall into place after you’ve been a parent to him or her first.

  14. Good advice, too many try too hard!

  15. i never understood the “don’t be friends with your kids” motto; i also never understood that parents wouldn’t see themselves as an authority to their children. so, with that i completely agree with you! i think there must be a balance between the two. i love my 14 year old son and we joke around all the time, he asks me about what’s happening on project runway and i ask him about his video games. we have inside jokes and tease each other and truly can just enjoy each others company. he literally makes me laugh more than anyone else. but when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, i am his mom. i think he prefers it that way too. kids want to know they have someone that will provide boundaries for them, even if they say they don’t : )

    • How cute, he asks you about Project Runway :).
      It’s good that you two can have a good time together with crossing the boundaries of respect. I’m sure your son wouldn’t have it any other way :)

  16. Great post! I do think there’s a fine line that we walk while being a friend to our kids and still being the parental figure they need. I’m already finding it tricky and my daughter’s only 3! I can only imagine how hard it will be by the time she’s a teen!!

  17. It’s a hard line, but def one that needs to be made. Kudos for the shout-out for keeping the boundaries!

  18. to add more – stating a boundary or limit will let them feel where they stand, thus respect will follow :)

  19. I agree completely!

  20. Absolutely. I get impatient with parents who seem to try so hard to win their kids’ approval! Who’s the adult here?!!

  21. Sheryl of georyl.com says

    you’re right. parents should be parents – not some pushovers who’ll bend their own rules just because they lack the conviction to discipline their children. although there are times when we need to compromise as parents, we should set the boundaries and show our authority so that our children will learn to respect us.

  22. Everything in moderation, so they say. Relationships included. :)
    Thanks for this wonderful post, Pepper!

  23. Thanks for the advice. I will take note of this so I can use this when I have my own daughter. Haha! But I have experienced this too I think, managing a team is also making sure, there’s a line between professional relationship and being friendly with them.

  24. So well said. I think children want and need parents to be parents. I think friendship can be a part of that but only a part.

  25. I agree with you 100%. We should set boundaries as parents. We can be friendly with them but not to the point of acting like their age. Parents are here for a reason — to guide kids to become responsible adults in the future. I’d hate to think of the Little One growing up without discipline and respect for others. I hate seeing it in other people and I’s hate myself more if this happened to her.

  26. I totally agree that there is only one set of parent. My little boy is starting to grow up and I want to balance school, discipline, playing and respect not only to us but also to other people.

  27. I completely agree! It really starts to get hard when they hit about 18 because they tend to start talking to you as though you are a peer. Then that’s when you have to also let them know, you are and always will be their parent.

  28. Totally agree 100%. Teaching high school kids and seeing their parents try to be their friends totally ended up with disrespect!

  29. There is nothing that invites disrespect more in the eyes of a child than to see a parent “slacking on the job” of being a parent and offering friendship as an alternative. It is just a precursor of allowing children to always have their way. Children need to be taught boundaries and limits since they do not know any better because of their inexperience in life. Friendship is always welcome but not at the expense of parenting.

  30. Rovie @ Street Smart says

    You have stressed a very important point on parenting. And, I share the same views with you.

    Yes, as parents we would want our kids to open up to us but imposing discipline and commanding respect is also an important element in successful every parent-child relationship.

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