As a parent, do you often wonder if you can also be a friend to your child? Will doing so change the parent-child relationship? Read on to find out the answer.
By Jasmine Kaur
"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship." — Thomas Aquinas, Italian Theologian
Friends make our life worth living and are a blessing, and children seem to have a natural ability to make friends. The enthusiasm and joy children exude when they are with their friends can make us wonder if we should also become friends with our children.
But, can parents be friends with their children?
The parent–child relationship is a special one. A positive parent–child bond plays a crucial role in moulding a child's perspective, influencing his choices, shaping his behaviour, and helping him grow into a well-balanced individual.
So, while being friends with your child may seem very attractive, numerous studies state that it's really not the best idea for either parent or child. Here are some reasons why parents should not be friends with their children.
1. An unequal relationship: A parent–child relationship is an unequal one because parents are in a position of authority, are more knowledgeable, and exert more influence than the child. So, parents are able to see the big picture, guide a child and discipline him. But the bond between your child and his friend is devoid of such inequalities or responsibilities.
2. Hindrance to disciplining: Parents are responsible for setting the rules, teaching their children to behave in a disciplined manner, and making them face the consequences for breaking those rules. Friends neither play the role of a disciplinarian nor do they enforce consequences. So, when parents become friends with their children, to pretend to be 'cool', they may turn a blind eye to their child's issues with discipline.
3. Burden them with problems: Becoming their child's friend, can lead parents to share their problems like financial difficulties or relationship crises with the child. But children aren't mature enough to cope with such issues and can feel burdened by these problems. It also robs children of a carefree childhood.
4. Loss of authority: Although parents should share a warm, loving and open relationship with their child, they should also ensure that their child accepts their authority, and respects them. But, when parents become friends, it can make the child believe that she wields the same power and authority as her parents. This may make the child reject her parents' authority.
So, what should you do? How can you be a parent and yet share a close and friendly relationship with your child? The answer lies in being a friendly parent. Here are some ways you can be one:
1. Be playful: In today's stressful and busy times, parents have almost forgotten that being playful with a child works like magic. Being playful is not about being childish but being spontaneous. Injecting fun into any activity your child is engaged in or, coming up with an imaginative play idea makes you a playful parent. Remember, it's about finding ways to enter your child's world, so you understand and connect with him better.
2. Tell stories: Is there a child who doesn't like listening to stories? Stories play a very important role in childrens' growth and development. Listening to stories stimulates a child's imagination, enhances listening skills, and teaches values, morals and life lessons. One of the ways you can get closer to your child is by telling her stories. You can even share your previous day's experience as a story. This will teach your child that conversations can be more than just question-and-answer sessions about what happened in school or, how she is doing in academics.
3. Use humour: Like adults, children also enjoy a dose of humour. So, go ahead and laugh with your child and bond with him. Cracking a joke is also serious business. Listening to jokes helps a child become more imaginative and use language more effectively.
4. Be easy-going: As a parent, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on your child, not only to protect him but also to help and guide him in the right direction. But you should do this in a friendly manner instead of adopting a dominating attitude.
Understand that you can build a close, personal relationship with your child, and still remain a responsible parent. Be a responsive parent and stay connected to your child. That will help you become the best parent you can be.
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